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EDO Team January 30, 2024 4 min read

From Lil Jon to Yellowstone: The 20 Most Engaging English-Language TV Shows of 2023

To determine which English-language programs really drove results for advertisers in 2023, we ranked the 20 shows that were most likely to generate consumer engagements across broadcast and cable primetime TV.

2023 saw a fierce battle between incumbent franchises and relative newcomers punching above their weight. While the popularity of any given TV show is subject to consumer whims, looking at these top performers offers a guide for media buyers and owners: note your wins, spot the rising stars, and find categories where you may be over- or under-invested.

"The combined power of strong creative execution and compelling programming drives exceptional outcomes for advertisers, according to our data," said Scott Grunther, Head of Media Partnerships at EDO. "The top-ranking programs represent the year’s most engaging premium content across broadcast and cable, offering a glimpse into 2023’s American TV zeitgeist."

See our full lists of the 10 most engaging broadcast and cable programs of 2023 below, followed by an analysis of key trends. Broadcast and cable programs are compared to the per-person, per-second engagement generated by the average primetime broadcast or cable progarm in 2023.

 

Top broadcast primetime programs of 2023 

  1. Baking It, NBC, +39%
  2. Crime Scene Kitchen, FOX, +38%
  3. The Prank Panel, ABC, +34%
  4. Celebrity Family Feud, ABC, +33%
  5. LA Fire & Rescue, NBC, +32%
  6. The Golden Bachelor, ABC, +29%
  7. The Amazing Race, CBS,+ 27%
  8. Barons, CW, +24%
  9. Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge, NBC, +23%
  10. Yellowstone, CBS, +22%

 

Top primetime cable programs of 2023

  1. Lil Jon Wants to Do What?, HGTV, +103% 
  2. Windy City Rehab: Alison's Dream Home, HGTV, +94%
  3. Dave, FXX, +86%
  4. Good Trouble, Freeform, +76%
  5. When Sharks Attack... And Why: Extra Bite, National Geographic, +73%
  6. 1883: A Yellowstone Origin Story, Paramount Network, 71%
  7. Grown & Gospel, WEtv, +70%
  8. Secrets of Penthouse, A&E, +69%
  9. Naked and Afraid, Viceland, +66%
  10. When Calls the Heart, Hallmark, +65%

 

 

Let ‘em bake: Baking It and Crime Scene Kitchen top the broadcast charts

Many familiar names appeared atop broadcast’s most-engaging programs, including ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud, CBS’ The Amazing Race, and ABC’s The Golden Bachelor, which in fact saw higher ad effectiveness than any previous inaugural season in the popular franchise.

But dominating the top two slots were high-stakes baking competitions.  NBC’s Baking It claimed first place, generating 39% more per-person, per-second engagement than the broadcast primetime average. FOX’s Crime Scene Kitchen (+38%) followed, revealing a potent sweet tooth among TV audiences, who are ripe for engagement with not only the content but the commercials they watch. Both shows completed their second season in 2023, and featured a slew of celebrity hosts and guests, such as Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Joel McHale, and Kristen Bell.

The performance gains across broadcast’s top 10 list were fairly consistent, with audiences anywhere from 22% to 39% more likely to engage with brands, compared to the average broadcast primetime program.


Major makeovers: Lil Jon and Windy City Rehab lead cable programming 

Our list of the top 20 most engaging cable programs was also topped by a domestic staple: HGTV makeover shows. 

The relative newcomer, Lil Jon Wants to Do What?, only in its second season, placed first above any other cable show, generating a little more than twice as much per-person, per-second engagement as the cable primetime average. Right behind it was the off-shoot Windy City Rehab: Alison’s Dream Home, which premiered last summer and was 94% more likely to generate consumer engagement than the benchmark. Both shows feature well-known HGTV faces (Anitra Mecadon and Alison Victoria, respectively) completing home and office renovations, which evidently primed its audiences for greater engagement with brand advertisers. 

Documentary and drama were the other big categories topping cable’s charts, and there was a surprisingly light showing for comedy. FXX’s Dave secured the third spot on the list, and was the only sitcom to reach the top 10 across either cable or broadcast. 

 

Platform players: Disney Co. and Yellowstone outperform across cable and broadcast 

While these top 10 lists included a mix of new and established shows, there were two content powerhouses that dominated both leaderboards.

In 2023, CBS’ Yellowstone held its spot in broadcast’s top 10. Even more impressive was the new addition to its fictional universe. 1883: A Yellowstone Origin Story premiered on Paramount+ and in its first year, ranked among cable’s top 10 engaging programs. In a savvy move, the network has driven further audience growth for 1883 by airing new episodes on linear after their original streaming debut.

The other unstoppable force was The Walt Disney Company. It racked up the highest representation in cable primetime, with six ranking programs across its FXX, Freeform, and National Geographic channels. On broadcast, Disney’s subsidiary ABC led the major networks with six placements, followed by NBC with five, and CBS and FOX tied with four each.

 

Don’t just guess — know what works.

TV programs have long been ranked according to the sheer size of their audience. But in today’s hyper-fragmented media landscape, a program’s value to advertisers can’t solely be evaluated by the size of its audience. Instead, brands must also pay close attention to how engaged the audience was. That is, did the viewers who watched the program take action after seeing a brand’s ad — such as searching for the advertiser online or visiting its website?

While TV’s biggest franchise players held their ground, 2023 revealed the rapid ascent of new shows that tap into the zeitgeist and cultural trends – from baking to makeovers to quirky sitcoms. Stay ahead of the trends in 2024 by getting our “Know What Works” newsletter right in your inbox.