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Survey: America's favorite TV shows are not what you think

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Helen Sloan/HBO

It’s often reported which TV shows are the most watched and highest rated. But which programs are America’s favorites

Harris Poll recently surveyed U.S. viewers of varying age, sex, location, and political affiliation and asked which current TV series are their favorites to watch. The results contain many titles from Nielsen’s most-watched list, yet the entire rundown of answers might surprise you. 

The No. 1 choice is CBS’ NCIS, which doesn’t receive much media buzz and is often assumed to be a show that has less active viewer engagement than more buzzy titles (not to mention, it gets mocked plenty for having an older-skewing audience). Yet not only is it heavily watched, the crime procedural ranked in the top three among favorite shows of nearly every demographic—including Millennials. No. 2 was another CBS title, The Big Bang Theory (CBS was so happy with this survey the network sent out a press release about it, but a rep said Harris ordered this poll independently). Here are the top 10: 

NCIS (CBS)

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Scandal (ABC)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

The Good Wife (CBS) and The Blacklist (NBC) — tied at #6

Modern Family (ABC)

Blue Bloods (CBS)

Criminal Minds (CBS)

Note this poll was in the field in January, so it was before Fox’s breakout new hit Empire was released. 

Now let’s look at some demos:

 

FIRST CHOICE

SECOND CHOICE

  THIRD CHOICE

Men

NCIS

The Walking Dead

  Big Bang Theory

Women

NCIS

Big Bang Theory

  Scandal

East

NCIS

The Walking Dead

  Big Bang Theory

Midwest

NCIS

Big Bang Theory

  Walking Dead

South

NCIS

The Walking Dead

  Big Bang Theory

West

NCIS

Big Bang Theory

  Walking Dead

Urban

Walking Dead

NCIS

  Big Bang Theory

Suburban

NCIS

Big Bang Theory

  Walking Dead

Rural

NCIS

Big Bang Theory

   Walking Dead

Millennials (18-37)

Walking Dead

Big Bang Theory

   NCIS

Gen X (38-49)

Walking Dead

Big Bang Theory

   NCIS

Baby Boomers (50-68)

NCIS

Big Bang Theory

  The Blacklist

Matures (69+)

NCIS

Blue Bloods

  The Good Wife

Conservatives

NCIS

Walking Dead

  Big Bang Theory

Moderates

NCIS

Big Bang Theory

  Walking Dead

Liberals

Big Bang Theory

 Walking Dead

  NCIS

Children in HH

Walking Dead

 Big Bang Theory

  NCIS

No children in HH

NCIS

Big Bang Theory

  Walking Dead