Community Beats Mad Men: Visualizing TV Ratings

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We hear a lot about TV ratings. The Big Bang Theory’s are very high! Community’s are very low! But with original cable programming getting so much focus in our little TV-obsessed world, it can be hard to know just where each show stands, viewer-wise. So we made this chart, showing where most of today’s major comedies stand compared to some buzzed-about cable dramas and the reining kings of 90s sitcoms. We used the latest episode ratings for any show currently airing, and found the finale season averages for some older shows.

It’s kind of crazy to see where the shows fall! We all mourn Community’s low ratings, but it’s handily beating two of the most talked-about shows on TV: Mad Men and Breaking Bad. And literally nothing is coming close to touching NBC’s 90s Must See TV heyday. Network shows demand higher ratings, yes, but we can see cable shows starting to encroach on network’s numbers as the line between broadcast and cable continues to disintegrate. How long will it be before cable shows make up fully half of the top-rated shows on TV? And at what point will the distinction between broadcast and cable TV lose all meaning?

Here’s the full list of data used for the above chart:

Seinfeld - final season average: 21.7m

Friends - final season average: 20.84m

Big Bang Theory - 11/10: 15.89m

Two and a Half Men - 11/14: 14.77m

Modern Family - 11/16: 12.91m

Sopranos - final season average: 8.23m

The Simpsons - 11/14: 7.5m

Happy Endings - 11/16: 6.94m

The Walking Dead - 11/13: 6.12m

The Office - 11/10: 5.96m

Up All Night - 11/16: 4.88m

Bob’s Burgers - Season 1 finale, 5/22: 4.3m

Whitney - 11/10: 4.28m

30 Rock - Season 5 finale, 5/5: 4.2m

Parks and Rec - 11/10: 3.66m

Community - 11/10: 3.49m

Arrested Development - Series Finale: 3.3m

Mad Men - Season 4 finale, 10/18/10: 2.44m

South Park - 11/16: 2.41m

Breaking Bad - Season 4 finale, 10/10: 1.89m

The Daily Show - 11/16: 1.61m

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia - 11/10: 1.31m

Colbert Report - 11/16: 1.18m

Conan - 11/16: 0.77m

Party Down - Series Finale: 75k

All data from TV by the Numbers and Wikipedia.