American Idol, Sunday Night Football Top Adults 18-49 Shows For 2008-9 Season

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Surprising no one, American Idol placed #1 and #2 for the 2008-9 broadcast prime-time season in terms of viewing by adults 18-49, the demographic most valued by TV advertisers.

With NBC Sunday Night Football at #3, two other NFL related shows were also in the top 20, The OT (Fox’s Sunday recap show) and NBC’s Sunday Night Pre-Kick runup show.

Along with American Idol and football there were a total of 11 unscripted shows in the top 20. Cheap (except for NFL games) and successful is a powerful force in the TV world.

CBS and ABC lead the networks, each with 6 of the top 20 shows. Fox and NBC each claimed 4 of the top 20 shows. But American Idol’s lead over the runner ups was so great that Fox easily won the seasonal 18-49 title.

Most surprising to me is the return of The Bachelor to such a level of success. Time will tell whether this season was just lightning in a bottle or whether the franchise has been revived.

Compare this season’s top 20 to last season’s (2007-8) top 20. Remember the WGA strike hammered most scripted shows.

Top 20 Shows For Adults 18-49 For The 2008-9 Broadcast Prime-Time Season


Rank Programs Network STD Adults 18-49 Live+SD (000) P18-49 Rating
1 AMERICAN IDOL-WEDNESDAY FOX 12,196 9.2
2 AMERICAN IDOL-TUESDAY FOX 12,043 9.1
3 NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL NBC 8,533 6.5
4 DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES ABC 6,799 5.2
5 GREY’S ANATOMY ABC 6,278 4.8
6 TWO AND A HALF MEN CBS 6,215 4.7
7 HOUSE FOX 6,140 4.7
8 DANCING WITH THE STARS ABC 6,135 4.6
9 CSI CBS 6,000 4.5
10 THE OT FOX 5,772 4.4
11 LOST ABC 5,597 4.2
12 SUNDAY NIGHT NFL PRE-KICK NBC 5,578 4.2
13 SURVIVOR: GABON CBS 5,543 4.2
14 OFFICE NBC 5,292 4.0
15 THE BACHELOR ABC 5,245 4.0
16 RULES OF ENGAGEMENT CBS 5,154 3.9
17 SURVIVOR: TOCANTINS CBS 5,073 3.8
18 BIGGEST LOSER 7 NBC 5,020 3.8
19 DANCING W/STARS RESULTS ABC 5,017 3.8
20 CSI: MIAMI CBS 4,836 3.7


Nielsen TV Ratings: ©2009 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

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