For more, check out last year's list. The Top 10 TV Ratings Moments of 2010: 10 to 6 | 5 to 1
Since I've gotten into fairly regular writing about TV ratings this year, I'm going to take advantage of that and link back to some of my more elaborate writings on these top ratings moments of 2011. Many to most of these deserved a lot more ink than I can spill in these short spaces to which I constrain myself, so I recommend looking back on some of the bold links below if you're up for some further reflection. (And all ten of these links except the Jersey Shore one are written in the relatively immediate aftermath, which might be a neat perspective to look back on.) Here goes!
The Walking Dead (October 16) - Last year's premiere of The Walking Dead was a bigger deal because it came out of nowhere. But the show took a key step this season as well, ascending from merely a huge-for-cable drama into perhaps the first ever bonafide broadcast-sized scripted hit. The 3.8 demo premiere came while broadcast dramas were generally having a fairly soft fall. Ultimately, just four fall 2011 dramas had a larger demo average.
WS Game 7 vs. Grimm (October 28) - We may never again see this fascinating a Friday in TV ratings. Start with rain delays pushing a huge sports event to a normally viewing-depressed night. Game 7 of the World Series was big (7.4) but would've been bigger on a Thursday. Meanwhile, NBC's surely-doomed premiere of Grimm somehow scored its network's biggest drama premiere (2.1) of the fall and, eventually, the only new drama full season.
NBA Finals Game 6 (June 12) - It's not every year that a sports league "makes a move," but the NBA did it this year. The culmination of LeBron's Decision was the huge 9.7 demo for this year's Finals Game 6. The first five games were actually up from last year's first five (non-decisive games comparison), an amazing feat considering last year's Finals had the dream matchup (Celtics/Lakers) and this year's lacked historically marquee teams.
Jersey Shore (January 20) - Perhaps my biggest regret from last year's list was missing out on the meteoric rise of Jersey Shore. I'm sure some would rather I keep on forgetting, but I do have a chance to grab what will likely be the ratings peak of this enormous cable phenomenon, its 8.87 million viewers and 4.7 demo for the fourth episode of season three. Just two programs on all of TV did better that (in-season!) week (two American Idols).
The Voice (April 26) - There's no way at present to judge the long-term impact of this moment. But from where we sit right now, with NBC coming off an anemic autumn, this moment still looms large as the beginning of what may be NBC's Last Great Hope. The 5.1 demo for the premiere of The Voice was the biggest series premiere of the 2010-11 season. And it came on a network that's struggled to get sampling for almost anything else.