Pictured: Justin Hartley as Colter Shaw. Photo: Sergei Bachlakov/CBS ©2024 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What is the most-watched scripted series in America in all of broadcast TV these days? No, not NCIS, or FBI, or Chicago Fire. According to data released Tuesday, April 16 by CBS, it is Tracker, the rookie series about lone-wolf survivalist Colter Shaw played by Justin Hartley. Shaw roams America helping cops and private citizens track down missing familiy members — even if his own family life is not so neat and tidy.

The series, which is based on the bestseller “The Never Game” by Jeffery Deaver, is, according to CBS, the No. 1 show on television based on current Nielsen data. Premiering in February in the covetted post-Super Bowl slot, the series is averaging between 16- and 20-million multiplatform viewers a week. That is tracked over 35 days, and includes viewers who stream it on Paramount+.

That makes it the most-watched new series on broadcast TV in six years. You have to go back to the launch of Young Sheldon in 2017 or Empire in 2014 to find scripted comedies and dramas with a bigger initial impact with viewers.

Plus it has boosted CBS’s Sunday at 9 pm time period ratings by over 80 per cent years-to year.

The chart below shows where Tracker ranks strictly in terms of broadcast ratings, and over a shorter, Live+7 day window:

In terms of multiplatform viewing, live, PVR’ing, streaming, taken over a 35 day period, Tracker’s audience swells over 20 million — astounding even by pre-pandemic standards. Check out that chart below:


The series, simulcast in Canada by CTV, is a winner north of the border as well. An episode from the end of March drew close to a million on CTV just in overnights. Factor in data across all digital platforms in Canada, over that same 35 day period, and it is not out of the question that those initial numbers could double.

CBS, of course, is happy to share the overall ratings picture. They have eight of the Top-10 shows in US broadcasting since the start of the year, with just two NBC Chicago shows, Fire and Med, breaking up the CBS monopoly. CBS also claims the No. 2 rookie show, Elspeth, and the No. 1 reality show, although it is eye-opeing to see Survivor way down in the 20th spot on the Live+7 chart and averaging less than 6.4 million US viewers per week.

Two of CBS’s Top-10 shows, Young Sheldon and Blue Bloods, are heading into final seasons. The Tiffany network, however, has a very consistent record of drafting the next top rookie or two to replace retiring winers in their ranks.

Hartley is among the executive producers of Tracker, as is a familiar face and name in network television for the past 35 years: Ken Olin. Remember him from thirtysomething? This May he will crack the seventy-something barrier after a producing career which has included such hit shows as Alias, Brothers & Sisters and This Is Us. Elwood Reid and Ben Winters also serve as executive producers.

New episodes of Tracker will continue to air on Sundays on CBS and CTV until the season finale, which is scheduled for May 19.

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