The Rovers Return owner, played by Simon Gregson, triumphed over long-running EastEnders character Dot Cotton (June Brown) and Weatherfield's Blanche Hunt (Maggie Jones) in a survey carried out by The People.
Gregson, who made his debut on the show in 1989, told the newspaper: "Oh my God, I am chuffed. I'm delighted people enjoy watching Steve and the scrapes he gets into. And I'm pleased people like to watch him as much as I love playing him."
Runner-up June Brown added: "It's great to know I'm appreciated."
Coronation Street was named as the top soap in the poll, beating EastEnders by one percentage point. Emmerdale and Hollyoaks followed in third and fourth place respectively.
The results also show that Corrie is preferred by viewers in the north, Scotland, Wales and the Midlands. However, in London, EastEnders outrates its rival by two to one.
An ITV spokeswoman said: "We are delighted viewers in the north remain loyal to Coronation Street. I guess they affiliate themselves with us because of the accents on the show and because viewers can associate themselves with the characters."
She added: "We do have a big following in the south. But it's nice to know from this survey that we also have a big following in the Midlands and in Wales. That is fantastic."