QUICK QUESTION: So Which Big Network Do We Like Best These Days?

The reason we spend way too much time each year focused on the business side of "the new fall season" is that it's just so inherently competitive. It's basically the battle royale of television! The big four networks (plus The CW) unveil new and (theoretically) improved schedules that aim to come out on top of the five-way dogpile in each time slot, all in the hopes of scoring those sweet, sweet ad dollars. The head-to-head nature of these face-offs often result in the maddening cancellations of excellent shows while terrible ones live on. The entire spectacle has turned us—innocent bystanders who just want to watch our stories!—into amateur number-crunchers, paying way too much attention to statistics and overnight ratings. So let's just cut to the chase and answer the main question that all networks wish they could ask us directly: Which big network do we currently like the best overall?



ABC


The American Broadcasting Company is no stranger to the ups and downs of network brawlin'. In the early '90s ABC was a sitcom titan, boasting tons of top-rated shows like Roseanne and Home Improvement. After spending some time behind the pack both in the ratings and in critical consensus, it had a resurgence with dramas like Lost and Desperate Housewives before slipping back into third place again. However, ABC's been back in the saddle lately with an array of diverse, well-reviewed series like Modern Family, Once Upon a Time, and Happy Endings.

The Good: Other beloved (and fresh-seeming) ABC series include Revenge, Nashville, Last Resort, Scandal, Suburgatory, Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

The Not-So-Good: The new Reba McEntire sitcom Malibu Country is neither great nor particularly reputable. Same goes for The Neighbors and Last Man Standing. Then there's ABC's array of mainstay low-brow reality series like The Bachelor(ette)(Pad), Dancing With the Stars, and Wipeout.



CBS


The Columbia Broadcasting System has been a dominant force on TV ever since it decided to just nakedly grab for a larger (yet older-skewing) demographic. Ratings behemoths like the CSI and NCIS franchises score huge numbers but go largely ignored by critics and tastemakers. It's the same story with Chuck Lorre's multiple sitcoms: Huge numbers, yet a complete paucity of buzz. Can you name the male lead on Mike & Molly? I can't!

The Good: CBS's biggest stabs at attracting hipper viewers have included 2 Broke Girls, How I Met Your Mother, and Elementary. But still, most of CBS's best shows skew older: The Good Wife, Person of Interest, Survivor, and its two late-night shows, Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

The Not-So-Good: CBS airs a lot of interchangeable procedurals that are somehow both inappropriately graphic and bland, like Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, CSI, and NCIS. Plus a handful of CBS's new shows haven't exactly lit the world on fire: Partners, Vegas, and the recently canceled Made in Jersey.



The CW


The CW has to be one of TV's most frustrating stories. How can a network with so much market penetration still get sub-cable viewership? It's likely to do with how The CW intentionally ruined its own brand years ago by continuing with the WB's and UPN's strategy to attract younger viewers but then further narrowed its demographic to just 14-year-old girls. It means that relatively solid genre shows like Nikita have floundered and The CW hasn't been able to launch a reputable comedy in years. If we're being honest, nothing less than a full housecleaning and rebranding could turn this ship around. If The CW was halfway savvy, it'd reformulate itself as the next AMC or FX, producing risky, watercooler series that would be under-the-radar critical hits until they suddenly became ratings bonanzas. But then what do I know about The CW's business model? Nothing. Maybe they even think they're doing a good job.

The Good: The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, and Arrow all exist at various stages of terrific. Arrow especially has the greatest shot at crossover appeal, assuming male viewers will ever not be totally put-off by The CW brand.

The Not-So-Good: 90210, Hart of Dixie, America's Next Top Model, Gossip Girl, and Beauty and the Beast are all embarrassing and terrible. That's fully HALF of The CW schedule.



Fox


At 25 years old, Fox is still technically one of the most youthful networks around, but unlike The CW, it's been able to parlay that youthful spirit into success. Much of that has to do with the still highly rated (if not quite as beloved) American Idol, but also with the success of Fox's Sunday-night Animation Domination block and now its fledgling Tuesday comedy block, both of which have been buzz magnets. Add to that its genuinely interesting penchant for taking risks (Fringe, Touch, Glee) and Fox is one of the savviest networks on TV when it comes to achieving high ratings while also maintaining a modicum of artistic credibility.

The Good: Even in its old age, The Simpsons (which is 1,000 years old in TV years) is still one of TV's best comedies; up-and-comers include Bob's Burgers, New Girl, Raising Hope, Ben and Kate, and The Mindy Project. Fringe will be finishing out its (miraculous) fifth season in early 2013, plus Bones and Glee remain some of the oddest (and decently rated) shows on the network.

The Not-So-Good: Too much Gordon Ramsay: Kitchen Nightmares, MasterChef, Hotel Hell, and Hell's Kitchen. Too much Seth MacFarlane: Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, American Dad!. Too much Simon Cowell: The X Factor. Plus, consider whatever ill will Fox has built up over canceling Firefly and ruining Dollhouse and it may be hard to earn back many viewers' respect.



NBC


The National Broadcasting Company has commanded a lot of our attention over the past decade, going from one of TV's most "must-see" destinations to becoming a laughingstock, seemingly over and over again. Still though, regardless of its often dubious decision-making (The Jay Leno Show, Knight Rider, American Gladiators), NBC airs some of TV's best and riskiest television.

The Good: Specifically in the comedy category, shows like 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and Community aren't big ratings-grabbers but they occupy a lot of critics' mindspace. Go On and The Office are both well-liked and well-rated. Meanwhile Parenthood and Grimm have been risky and modest hits while Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live continue to hold down the fort, quality-wise, in the late-night arena.

The Not-So-Good: Yeah, sorry, Jay Leno is still terrible. The Voice is already showing signs of going the way of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, oversaturation-wise. Chicago Fire, Whitney, Up All Night, and Guys With Kids are low-ratings- and low-opinion-generators. NBC's biggest hit of the fall, Revolution, is likely an emperor's new clothes situation. (You can put that quote on my tombstone, I don't care.) So yeah, overall, NBC still has a lot of work to do.


Okay, let's hear it: Which major network (or The CW) is doing the best these days? Show your work!


Comments (149)
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I'd say ABC because from generation-to-generation, they'll always have the most entertaining shows in the world. Comedy, drama, crime... always forever entertaining.
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abc good show scripted dramas

1)once upon a time

2)revenge

3)castle

4)last resort

5)greys anatomy

abc bad scripted dramas

1)scandal

2)nashville

3)666 park ave



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ABC & CBS & Fox are definitively the best - all shows from those network I have been watching for years now . CW is a good network in general but it needs to take itself more seriously and not only appeal to 13 yearold fangirlies...
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CW Network is the best

Gossip Girls has to be renewed for a season 7

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Bascially all the major networks suck these days and most of the new shows have been disappointing.



Best Networks:

1) AMC.....Walking Dead and Hell On Wheels

2) FX.........Sons Of Anarchy

3) HBO.....Game Of Thrones

4) Starz.....Spartacus

5) Showtime....Homeland



The other networks need to grow some balls and release good/edgy shows. Once Lost, Jericho and Heros ended I gave up on network television.
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I'd say that The CW is the best because I passionately love TVD, SPN, Nikita and Arrow even though they've made stupid decisions in the past by canceling TSC and Veronica Mars. It almost made me quit watching the network but I love TVD & SPN too much to quit.
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Hard decision between The CW and ABC but what I can say is that The CW has the best attractive actors ever.
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All of them at one Time or another made crappy decisions

like NBC "Awake",ABC "Kyle XY" ,USA "Dead Zone"

Until they will learn how to cancel a show with dignity

and give it head up so it can end properly

I say give them all 0



Oh and Jay Leno rules (Jimmy Kimmel Sucks)

I like him better than any of the other talk show hosts
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Ben & Kate is on Fox
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Hmm a fight between FOX (Fringe) and The CW (Arrow and Supernatural).
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Why does everyone keep avoiding The Mentalist? It's one of the best CBS shows with a unique and faithful fanbase.
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It's just House in a different setting, and without the humor. Don't get me wrong, I really like Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, but the show is just a procedural, so every episode is the same as every other episode. It's also really annoying that as soon as they tell the culprit that they have figured out the motive, he or she always confesses immediately and explains everything that happened in detail.
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Yeah...
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I voted for the CW just because I LOVE TVD and SPN and want the network behind them to win just once.

Then ABC because it's REALLY my fav network: OUAT, Happy Endings, Revenge, Last Resort, Scandal - I don't know the other network with so many entertaining AND high-quality shows.

Then Fox because of their new good sitcoms and Glee.

I watch some CBS and NBC shows but very few and I don't like these networks because of reasons. Wish them last places.
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Let's seeeee...

ABC i like Revenge, Once Upon A Time, 666 Park Avenue, and Last Resort.

CBS i like HIMYM, 2.5 Men, and TBBT, and I really wanna get into Elementary when I have some time, they've just been all piling up on my DVR.

CW i like nothing, but Arrow could have potential, another DVR- Hogger.

FOX i like Family Guy.

NBC i like The Voice, Revolution, Go On, The New Normal, SVU, and The Office.

So yeah, NBC wins for me.

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I have nno idea, here in australia we dont get all the same shows. I watch a bit from each station plus HBO, AMC and USA so lets just say Go TV!!!! And Fox will be forever cursed for cancelling Firefly.

P.S. I wont forgive the CW until they cancel Beauty and the Beast and bring back The Secret Circle!!!!
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I think Channel 11 has the best shows in Australia plus I agree with you about bringing back TSC and canceling BATB.
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Cw i like 90210 Gossip Girls Vampires Dairies Supernatural Nikita Hart Of Dixie Emily Owens

Beauty And The Best



CW Network has to renew Gossip Girls for a season 7



the Gossip Girls producers can wrap up their series when Gossip Girls is finished with their tenth season



Vampire Dairies and Gossip Girls could continue their series for longer time on the CW Network Since Vampire Dairies and Gossip Girls are based on the book series
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I have to correct my last comment

Admittedly I watch and love Fringe on FOX but I refuse to like the network because of how they treated the show
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Almost every show that I watch is on ABC...OUAT, Nashville, Revenge,Scandal, H.E., The Middle, Modern Family...I absolutely love all of these shows.



CW...I like Arrow and was a big fan of Secret Circle (still pissed that they cut the show)



CBS...I love Elementary and feel like I have to finish HIMYM (even though it's awful now)



I don't watch any of FOX or NBC's lineup



But ABC by far has the best shows..I'll even watch DWTS
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(Ranked solely out of scripted shows as watching foreign reality/talent shows feels unnecessary when there's usually a Swedish counterpart).



#1 It's a tough choice, but my favourite's got to be ABC despite them still airing the abomination that is Scandal. (Can't belive how much time I wasted watching 8 episodes of that show!) While I don't watch that many of their shows, I absolutely love the ones I do watch! They air my 2 favourite comedies (Modern Family and The Neighbors). I also really like Last Resort so far it's a tie with NBC's Revolution for the best new drama of the season. I also watch Suburgatory and Once Upon a Time and plan to give a couple more of their shows (namely The Middle, Happy Endings and Rookie Blue) a try when I get time. I gave 666 Park Avenue a chance but I'll probably drop it since it's pretty boring.



#2 Second place goes to NBC. Only beacuse of their (IMO) very strong line-up of new shows this season. As previously mentioned I really like Revolution (mostly because of Danny). I also like The New Normal and Guys with Kids a lot. I also watch Go On. When it comes to shows yet to premiere NBC's line-up is also the one that looks most interesting to me.



#3 The CW. I watch pretty much all of their shows. (Yes I'm still a teenager.) Nikita and The Vampire Diaries are my favourite CW shows. I also like 90210 a lot. I'm still watching all 3 of their new shows but I'm not hooked on any of them yet. I really hate Gossip Girl now yet I'm still watching. Since I've watched 5 seasons (Season 5 was a pain to watch, UGH) I can as well watch the final one right? I just hope Jessica Szohr and Taylor Momsen will be back; as of now, the show has not got a single likeable character.



#4 FOX. I love Glee! I also like New Girl and have so far enjoyed The Mindy Project.



#5 is CBS. It's the most monotonous network. I watch Criminal Minds and have started watching 2 Broke Girls. They had the weakest line-up of new shows this fall. Partners was the only show that seemed even a little interesting but it's not that great. I'm only still watching because of the Wyatt character.
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First: ABC because of Last Resort, Revenge, Nashville and Once upon a time.

Last: CBS because their procedural crap is sucking my will to live. (PoI is very good, but the rest...)
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Also NBC gets a minus-1 from me for cancelling Awake.
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I don't get why Leno was a "Not so Good" for NBC but Letterman was a "Good" for CBS. Letterman is just as terrible as Leno. I assume the audiences at both shows get paid to laugh, because I have never heard anything funny come out of either man's mouth.

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Whoever owns USA is who I am voting for - They continue to renew Psych which makes me very happy.
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YAY!!!!!! I cant waut til February!!!!
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ABC: I watch it on Tuesday (9 PM Comedy Hour), Wednesday (8-11, excluding The Nieghbors @ 8:30), and Sunday (Once Upon a Time & Revenge)! So yeah that's my favorite, followed by:



CBS: Monday (8-10, excluding Partners), Thursday (8 PM Comedy, 10 PM for Elementary)



NBC & CW: They're tied for me. I watch Revolution & Beauty and the Beast (don't judge lol), but I doubt if either get a second season (one of them most definitely won't).



FOX: I watched the Mindy Project, but then Apartment 23 came back on so now I watch nothing on there lol
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If I may, why don't you watch Arrow on the CW ? It's the kind of thing you might enjoy if you like Revolution and Beauty and the Beast (and it's way better than those two from a personal point of view).
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ABC wins with Scandal and Last Resort. The make my Thursdays feel alive again.

NBC would have won if only they had Community.

Where is FX? The best station ever!

CBS is dead last. I don't think i watch a single CBS show. Watch one episode of anything CBS once and it's like you've watched their entire line up. Nothing is good there, not the ?comedy?, Not the NCIS's CSI's Elementary's and all their other formulaic abominations.

TVD could only do so much for CW. See, if they hadn't cancelled TSC, I would have voted for them.

I love New Girl to death, but Fox really needs to pick itself up a little bit.
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This post is talking about the best network not the best cable network so your wondering where FX is is invalid.
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Community is on NBC.
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I tend to find most of the shows I'm watching are CBS shows. I sort of like Vegas but I find I'm not as eager to watch the episodes as I would with other shows.

Supernatural does draw a male audience. It is a show about two guys. But Arrow seems to be trying to appeal more to women than men.

The only good news about Fringe ending is that FOX will need another SF show to replace it with. But I don't feel it's ending too early. We wouldn't want to see Fringe wind up like X-Files. And even the current season is completely different than the how the show started.

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CW is the worst, they just don't know when to cancel a show! Gossip Girl, 90210, and even Supernatural are all way past their best, I still watch Supernatural though, I'll be there till the bitter end!



Fox is my mortal enemy for killing Fringe :sob: although, they did give us this final season at least... mmm...
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It doesn't make sense to be mad at Fox for "cancelling" Fringe. That show got two more seasons than anyone who has seen its ratings thought it would.
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But yes abc is the just winner!
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I'm so sorry but still, my one and only reason for choosing The CW is Tee-Vee-Dee!!
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what the hell man... the show which will be the reason for most of the votes for ABC (in this poll) was not even described : CASTLE. If someone is writing about Shows of ABC, castle comes foremost in it.
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AGREED.
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ABC is the best network by far with Revenge, Once Upon a Time & Nashville but pllllllllz people better start watching Nashville cuz it lost 30% viewers between ep 1 & 4 I don't understand it. I guess this show isn't meant lo last 10 seasons but if we could at least have one full season that'd be amazing huh???
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To really vote I should be able to watch this networks on my tv...I have no idea on which network are the show I watch most of the times...btw I think ABC has the most quality compelling shows all considered...
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I would have to go with ABC.
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I find Hart of Dixie cute especially wade and zoe cuteness.
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I watch Hart of Dixie, isn't a masterpiece but it's sweet and sometimes funny....Some people (me included) want to switch off their brains watching tv, and HoD is perfect!
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Why would you care which network stuff is on? It's the whole TV experience we enjoy, and all cancellations are about money - somebody else's. Sure we get angry when somebody cancels one of our favorite shows, but it's like a death in the family and like death there is nothing you can do about it, so you move on. There is so much on TV these days I only watch reruns of things I like to revisit from time to time and the rest of the time I watch new stuff. And of course what you watch is a matter of taste, anyway. We all have shows that some people may call a waste of time but it might be thast we just enjoy the charcters or the actors. My wife and I both love Warehouse 13 but we do know it's pretty ridiculous most of the time. And Homeland is really a well made show, but it's not something you may always be in the mood for. You may just enjoy the simple life of Hart of Dixie sometimes...
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can't really say one stands out, so like below I am just gonna vote by count of currently running shows on each that I watch.



ABC: 5

CBS: 3

CW: 1

NBC: 5

FOX: 2



ABC/NBC both 5, chose ABC cause of Castle and its Nathan Fillion tiebreaker.
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Its quite difficult. So, I'll make a list of the number of shows I watch and a mention of some of the shows I truly love on that network.

ABC: 7 (Last Resort, Castle. As a honorary mention, Lost) I think they're the most consistent in producing quality shows in different genres, but many of them don't stand out for me.

CBS: 4 (POI, The Mentalist, TBBT) It has a solid base of good shows and a fanbase who clearly love the network, even if they skew old. The comedies are doing fantastic. But too many drab procedurals hamper this network. Elementary is truly boring, but POI is turning things around.

CW: 4 (Supernatural, TVD and Arrow) My favorite show thrived on this network. It takes risks with genre shows which is great. Too many teen dramas suck the life out of the network and they have to go. Glad to see Mark. P trying to branch out with Arrow and Cult.

FOX: 1 (Fringe) Went from a must-see network from the heights of Prison Break, House to blah.

NBC 4 (Revolution, Go On and Community. Honorary mention for Awake). It has Hannibal in the works which I'm excited about. Never really liked NBC before (except for Heroes season 1). Interesting.

Its a toss up between four networks for me. I can't really decide. If I go with how I feel, CW/NBC will have my vote for the present season.
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I wish they had done this article with either all or most of the writers for this website contributing opinions, it's kind of unfair to take Price Peterson's word for whats good/bad on every network
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You go lots of good shows in the not-so-good sections, so this article is invalid...
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I am pretty sure this is the last season I will ever watch anything on NBC. They are the clear losers.

CW would have been my winner last year, but after TSC they are dead to me. I will never watch a new show on that network.

I like a few shows on CBS, but absolutely hate most procedurals and their idea of comedy.

Fox has some good shows, but has done some unforgivable things: Human Target, Firefly, Dollhouse.

ABC, the winner by default. Some good shows and no particular reason to hate them comes to mind.
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I totally agree with you about TSC & Cw, however, Arrow isn't too bad, you should give it a shot cuz it gives signs of potential
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I'm sure it's fine, but I'm not going to watch it. The CW can't be counted on to renew shows that are doing well. It could be their best new show and they could still cancel it. Why would I set myself up for that disappointment? On the off chance they do renew it, it'll be just as good on DVD. I'm not going to reward their unpredictable decision making by watching any of their new shows this year. They need to earn my trust again. It's going to take time.
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1. ABC: is doing a great job with the shows at the moment - persistence with Last Resort has especially impressed me.

2. The CW: can't say that a lot of shows are good on this network and ANTM, Beauty and the beast really proves the poor decisions made here but I cant help but commend CW on never really giving up on a show. Every time I like a show on the CW, they dont disappoint me with programming, random hiatuses, early cancellations, etc.

3. CBS: handles most shows decently

4. FOX: has some great shows but makes too many bad decisions. Glee on hiatus here, firefly cancelled, etc.

5. NBC: the worst channel ever, I always get worried when I start liking a show here because this network just doesnt care about fans of a show unless the show is the best of the night. Overly competitive and fans end up paying for it.
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I like a mixture of all of those shows so I can't give a favourite network.

I have to disagree with you about Hart of Dixie though. It is a really cute show that I can watch with anybody, including my daughter, and not having to worry about inappropriate and/or embarrassing content. It's like watching a chick flick once a week. There should be more like it.
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i know i also find hart of dixie cute show.
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Considering some of the horrible stuff the CW plays I think Hart of Dixie is a great show for the network! I actually look forward to seeing it every week :)
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Have to disagee with your assessment of the CW being marketed to 14 year old girls. My parents in their late 50's watch Heart of Dixie. Then this week a male coworker in his 50's mentioned watching The Arrow, that being said apparenlty here in Canada it is being carried by CTV. I'm in my 30's and watch the CW, its not my top network but definaly deserves more credit than it gets.
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Any of those Networks has some good shows. Shows that i like to watch for one reason or another. ABC has most of them so for me ABC wins. My ranking:

ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, CW
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CW- 1, Fox - 2, ABC - 3, NBC - 2, CBS - 3. But I choose CBS for Person of Interest alone. Most of my other television comes from USA (Psych! Suits!) and SyFy (Alphas! Haven!)
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ABC is definitely the best right now but I think you're confused about "The Simpsons" still being good, because, it's not. It hasn't been good since the 9th season.
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I really want to cheer for NBC. Hell, it's my all time favorite network. But these days ? Revenge, Once Upon A Time, and Last Resort can not be denied. Go for ABC.
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I think I probably watch CBS the most. I like procedurals so I watch the NCIS's, Person of Interest, Elementary, The Good Wife, Mentalist etc. I also watch ABC as much as CBS, so those two networks are definitely the best to me.
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I can't believe that Glee and "while also maintaining a modicum of artistic credibility" were in the same sentence, ew.



I also like how DWTS is low brow reality TV while Survivor is one of CBS's best shows...

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Can I vote for MTV being the best up and coming with Awkward and Teenwolf.
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"You can put that quote on my tombstone, I don't care."



that made me laugh

(and i agree with you)
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