As much as so-called replacement shows have been a rite of spring this television season, streaming-cable fare may be making up for a weak batch of “big” TV series.
According to data from Nielsen, hits among the week’s top 10 are
* Comedy Ghosted, A&E (1.5 million viewers)
* Drama 13 Reasons Why, Netflix (1.4 million viewers)
* drama The Alienist, TNT (1.3 million viewers)
* drama in death Wonder Years, Netflix (1.3 million viewers)
* drama in life Homeland, Showtime (1.2 million viewers)
* sci-fi The Bletchley Circle, PBS (1.1 million viewers)
* drama Happy Valley, BBC (1.1 million viewers)
* sci-fi ER, NBC (1.1 million viewers)
* sci-fi Twin Peaks, Showtime (1.1 million viewers)
* dramaThe Crown, Netflix (1.0 million viewers)
* A-list reality Real Housewives, Bravo (1.0 million viewers)
A notable caveat is that the number of viewers who tuned in on non-linear platforms, including DVRs, VOD and streaming, is actually actually down this season relative to last. That mirrors Nielsen’s own findings. In mid-season 2017, 70 percent of new shows whose viewership was determined from this perspective were ranked on top of Nielsen’s broadcast-cable top 10.
2018’s top 10 list only reflects three of the top five original scripted series — but it includes a long-running and beloved sitcom.
“This was an amazingly strong top 10 of programs across many different genres and platforms,” said Lisa Berger, president of entertainment for Freeform. “There’s definitely something for everyone, from the visually stunning — like Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale — to the powerful and a bit dark — like The Alienist.”
The fact that two streaming series and both fall dramas took slots in the top 10 may reflect a moment when viewing might be shifting away from broadcast television to on-demand and streaming platforms. But it’s also a sign that the traditional comfort food format has strong staying power — and could (if only for a season) satisfy the TV-watching need that renewed or old shows might not have held on to.
So, despite the avalanche of chatter about how big audiences once seemed to disappear after shows ran their course, those old hits are staying around. And, to date, the heavy hitters this season have fared much better than some newer originals.
With all of this in mind, here are this season’s (so far) 10 best shows:
* 13 Reasons Why
* The Alienist
* The Crown
* The Handmaid’s Tale
* Happy Valley
* The Americans
* The Bletchley Circle
* Twin Peaks
* The Americans