Kevin Costner as John Dutton in 'Yellowstone.' (Paramount Network)

'Yellowstone' Is Officially the Most-Watched Scripted Show on Television

The Yellowstone franchise may have taken some hits in recent months, including, but not limited to: series star Kevin Costner's divorce, series star Kevin Costner's departure, reports of creator Taylor Sheridan's out-of-control production costs and, oh, the fact that the series is ending later this year. But that hasn't stopped the beloved Western drama from reaching new heights. According to a new Nielsen ranking, Yellowstone is the most-watched entertainment show on TV... again.

Yellowstone Season 5, Part 1, which aired from November 2022 to January 2023 on the Paramount Network, topped Nielsen's list of the most-watched scripted series of the 2022-2023 TV season, per Variety. With audiences ditching linear TV for streaming, it's rare that a series on basic cable can get the kind of traction that would land it in Nielsen's Top 10, even. Astonishingly, Yellowstone ended its most recent run with a whopping 11.6 million average viewers per week. No other non-sports program, scripted or unscripted, surpassed the 10-million mark. What's perhaps more, Yellowstone was the No. 2 most-watched scripted or unscripted series on TV this past year, second only to Sunday Night Football.

"Yellowstone" premieres Wednesday, June 20 on Paramount Network. John Dutton (center - Kevin Costner), owner of the Dutton Ranch is surrounded by his ranch team (pictured l to r) Walker (Ryan Bingham), Lloyd (Forrie Smith), Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser), Jimmy (Jefferson White), Colby (Denim Richards) and Fred (Luke Peckinpah.

The cowboys of Yellowstone. National treasures, all! (Paramount Network)

The Duttons previously took the top spot among scripted TV shows in the 2021-2022 season. The only other scripted series from basic cable to consistently rank among TV's top shows is AMC's The Walking Dead, which ended its 11-season run in October 2022.

CBS's unflappable, eternal procedural NCIS came in second among scripted shows, averaging 9.8 million viewers per week. And the mega-popular Fire Country, about a group of elite firefighters battling destructive wildfires across Northern California, topped this year's ranking of new shows. Fire Country is the most-watched new scripted series, with an average of 8.3 million viewers per week.

Despite its imminent conclusion, Yellowstone will immediately be followed by a sequel series reportedly starring Matthew McConaughey and at least some of the flagship show's original cast members. It's a classic case of quitting while you're ahead, then getting back in the game. Somehow, we've always known... Yellowstone is the Tom Brady of TV.

Whatever duress the Dutton players are currently under (I mean, Cole Hauser looks like he's having the time of his life), one thing's for sure: the whole wild, merry bunch can shout a hearty yee-haw. Hopefully, there are even greener pastures ahead for America's favorite show.

READ MORE: Lainey Wilson Shares Why Taylor Sheridan Created a 'Yellowstone' Character Just for Her