The Most Popular Reality TV Shows Across the U.S.

Whether you’re a part of Bachelor Nation or a fan of singing contests like The Voice and American Idol, we all have a reality TV show or two (or three!) that we like to tune into, whether we admit it or not. There seems to be a reality TV show rooted in nearly every subject matter imaginable, from cooking to dating to storage facilities, so it’s easy for everyone to find something that interests them.

Given the growing popularity of reality TV, we were curious to know what the most popular reality TV shows are in the U.S. To find out, we studied search data from Google Trends for some of the most popular and most-watched reality TV shows to determine which are the most popular in every state and U.S. region. Additionally, we found the most popular reality TV shows nationwide based on the number of states that each show was the most searched in. Read on to learn more about what we uncovered!

Each State’s Reality TV Favorite 

Map showing the most popular reality TV shows by state


First, we used search data to determine each state’s most popular reality TV show.  There was quite a bit of variety, with a total of 34 different reality shows represented in the results.

Though it’s been more than 17 years since American Idol premiered, shows of a similar format retain their popularity. Talent- or singing-focused reality shows like The Voice, American Idol, and America’s Got Talent were the favorite in 10 states—HI, ID, KY, LA, MI, MO, NH, NM, TN, and WV. Popular categories for the shows favored in other states include home renovation, relationships, cooking, and the great outdoors.

Another interesting trend that we observed is that many states opted for TV shows based or filmed in their home state. For example, the most popular reality show in South Carolina is Southern Charm, the Bravo TV drama set in Charleston, SC. Similarly, The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and The Real Housewives of Dallas took the top spots in their home states of CA, GA, and TX, respectively. Surprisingly, The Real Housewives of New York was not the most searched show in NY, where New Yorkers favor The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills instead.

Regional Differences in Reality TV Show Favorites 

Map identifying the most popular reality tv shows by region

Next, we looked at the most popular reality TV shows in every U.S. region. Each region had a clear favorite except for the West, which was split between MasterChef and The Voice. Two of the four regions’ most favorite were relationship-centered reality shows—The Bachelorette in the Midwest and Married at First Sight in the South. Northeasterners appear to be supporters of entrepreneurship, with the long-running Shark Tank taking the top spot in the region.

Bringing It All Together: The Most Popular Reality TV Shows Overall 

Chart displaying the most popular reality tv shows based on searches

Lastly, we used the state-by-state results to determine which shows were the top searched in most states. We were surprised to find that Shark Tank was the most popular, with a total of six states, followed by The Voice, with a total of five states. Rounding out the top five was The Bachelorette, Married at First Sight, and MasterChef.

That concludes our look at the most popular reality TV shows in the U.S. And now to answer the question you may be wondering about—what is our favorite reality TV show to binge at Empire Today? Our day jobs tend to influence our TV preferences, and we opt for home renovation shows like Fixer Upper, Flip or Flop, and A Very Brady Renovation.

If you’re like us and looking to make some changes and updates to your home based on inspiration from your favorite home renovation reality shows, browse the Design area of our blog to get some more ideas!

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