Induction of vast transcriptional programs is a central event of innate host responses to viral infections. Here we report a transcriptional program with potent antiviral activity, driven by E74-like ETS transcription factor 1 (ELF1). Using microscopy to quantify viral infection over time, we found that ELF1 inhibits eight diverse RNA and DNA viruses after multi-cycle replication. Elf1 deficiency results in enhanced susceptibility to influenza A virus infections in mice. ELF1 does not feed-forward to induce interferons, and ELF1's antiviral effect is not abolished by the absence of STAT1 or by inhibition of JAK phosphorylation. Accordingly, comparative expression analyses by RNA-seq revealed that the ELF1 transcriptional program is distinct from interferon signatures. Thus, ELF1 provides an additional layer of the innate host response, independent from the action of type I interferons.