Genre breakdown of the top 10 primetime TV programs in the United States from 2001 to 2011 (in percent)

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SeasonRealityGeneral DramaSitcomSports
'01-'0222.4%29.5%38.9%9.2%
'02-'0363.1%11%17.2%8.7%
'03-'0455.9%26.5%9.2%8.3%
'04-'0555.5%36.3%-8.2%
'05-'0649.1%42.8%-8.1%
'06-'0768.6%23%-8.4%
'07-'0877.3%14.6%-8.1%
'08-'0950.4%32.8%7.4%9.4%
'09-'1047.9%32.7%-19.4%
'10-'11
season to date*
56.4%23.6%-20%
© Statista 2017

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About This Statistic

This statistic provides a genre breakdown of the ten most popular primetime TV programs from 2001 to 2011. In the TV season 2010/11, 56.4 percent of the ten most popular primetime programs were reality shows.


Most popular TV genres in the U.S. – additional information

Since the early 2000s, drama, reality and sitcoms have been the most popular TV genres in the United States. For the '07- '08 season, reality shows accounted for 77.3 percent of the top ten most popular primetime programs. Reality television, which usually involves unscripted real-life situations, have different types, the three most popular ones being adventure reality shows, dating reality shows and talent reality shows. In spring 2016, the number of TV viewers in the U.S. who said they typically watch one of these three types of reality shows rounded up to almost a hundred million.

Drama, another popular TV genre in the U.S., accounted for 23.6 percent of the top ten most popular primetime TV programs in the '10-'11 season. Drama is the TV genre most people, across all ages, are likely to binge watch, in other words, watch multiple episodes in a row. For example, 51 percent of leading Millennials, aged 26 to 31, were devoted viewers of TV drama shows, while only 22 percent watched multiple episodes of TV comedy shows.

According to a recent survey, sitcoms took the lead as the most popular primetime TV genre in the U.S., as 48 percent of respondents stated that they watch sitcoms or comedy shows in a regular basis. Sitcoms (short for situational comedy) are shows or performances which focus on creating humorous situation involving a group of characters. Examples of successful American sitcoms are Seinfeld, the Big Bang Theory, Friends, and M*A*S*H -- its finale in 1983 is still listed to this day as one of top leading all-time TV program in the U.S. in regards to viewership.

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