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The Year's TV Ratings Winners & Losers

Yahoo TV
The Year's TV Ratings Winners & Losers

James Spader as Raymond 'Red' Reddington in NBC's 'The Blacklist'

On TV, it was a good year to be a bearded duck hunter. It was not the greatest year to be a leotard-clad bunhead.

Here's a rundown of 2013's ratings winners and losers:


1. "The Blacklist": In recent seasons, a solid success like Fox's "Sleepy Hollow" (averaging 10.1 million total viewers this fall, per the latest Nielsen stats) would be the freshman standout. But this NBC crime drama starring James Spader has been out-of-the-box big, building on its "Voice" lead-in, dominating DVR playlists, and amassing a Top 5-sized weekly audience of nearly 17 million.

2. "Scandal": One year ago at this time, this Kerry Washington ABC series was a good-sized guilty pleasure, averaging 8.4 million viewers. Now it's a full-blown hit, with 12.2 million viewers each week, not including those who intend to binge on its Shonda Rhimes plot twists at a later streaming date.

[Related: 'Scandal' Topped Our List of the Year's Hottest TV Hookups]

3. Live TV: The Super Bowl was 2013's single most-watched show. The Seth MacFarlane-hosted Oscars was the year's seventh-biggest show. Everything between the Super Bowl and the Oscars was a football-related broadcast. The Carrie Underwood-led "Sound of Music Live" rose above bad reviews with 18 million debut-night viewers. In the multi-platform universe, nothing rose above the clutter like a show working without a net. (Speaking of which, Nik Wallenda's 23-minute high-wire walk across the Grand Canyon scored 13 million viewers for Discovery Channel.)

4. "Breaking Bad": The AMC meth drama kicked off its fifth and final season (all the way back in July 2012) as cult-favorite big, with roughly 3 million viewers. When it signed off this past September, it was just plain big (10.3 million viewers).

[Photos: 62 Things You Didn't Know About 'Breaking Bad']

5. "Duck Dynasty": This A&E reality series was on the rise as it wrapped its second season in late 2012. When it returned in the winter of 2013, it was a phenomenon, spinning off best-selling books and soaring as cable's most popular show after "The Walking Dead."

Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson at the New York auditions of AMERICAN IDOL. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.


1. "American Idol": For much of the 2000s, its season finale commanded an Oscar-sized audience. This past season, with one-and-done judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, Fox's humbled primetime champ settled for about one-third of what the 2013 Oscars telecast got.

[Related: Mariah Carey: Being on 'Idol' Was Like Being in Hell]

2. "Glee": Even as its overall audience diminished over the years, the Fox series remained a demo monster. This season, it's less popular among 18-to-49-year-olds than "60 Minutes."

3. "Go On": Heading into 2013, this Matthew Perry NBC sitcom was sporting a solid 3.2 rating in the 18-to-49 demo. Then the wheels fell off, the car was abandoned, and the first-season comedy never saw a second.

[Photos: More TV Shows That Signed Off in 2013]

4. "Bunheads": This ABC Family dance drama from "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino had a passionate fan base, especially among TV critics. But its live-TV audience never grew much beyond 1 million viewers. It aired its final episode in February.

5. Megan Hilty: Make no mistake; you're a winner if you've starred in two primetime series in the past calendar year. But you're a Nielsen loser if the first series was the canceled "Smash" (2.7 million viewers), and the second is the low-rated "Sean Saves the World" (4.3 million viewers), both for NBC. (In November, the latter was reupped for at least five more episodes, so it's really up to you viewers to move the talented Hilty out of this category.)