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Football Reigns in 2011′s Top Telecasts

by MarketingCharts staff
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American Idol Takes Primetime

Fox’s “American Idol” remained the top primetime program in 2011, a distinction it has held since its 5th season in 2007. The Wednesday night episode averaged 23.9 million viewers, or 8.1% of US TV viewers aged 2 years and older, while the Thursday night episode averaged just over 22 million viewers. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was the only other program to average over 20 million viewers, while ABC’s “Dancing with The Stars” took the fourth spot with 19.6 million, followed relatively distantly by its results show (16.8 million).

According to survey results released in October 2011 by Advertising Age, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and Fox’s “American Idol” are the most expensive primetime programs for advertisers. The average cost of a 30-second ad in NBC’s much-watched football contest is $512,367, while it runs between $468,100 and $502,900 for “Idol.” According to Advertising Age insight, the tally is relative since “Idol”‘s prices tend to go up as the show reaches its finale, with some spots going for as much as $640,000.

Timeshifted TV Nearly Doubles Program Audiences

According to Nielsen, the value of timeshifted viewing was clearly evident in 2011, as select programs almost doubled their audience when factoring in viewing from sources such as DVR, video-on-demand, and StartOver. FX’s “American Horror Story” experienced the greatest increase in viewers (95.3%), meaning that about 95% more viewers watched this show on FX via timeshifted viewing rather than live.

USA’s “Covert Affairs” (95.1%) and “Suits” (94.5%) followed, with TNT’s “Franklin & Bash” (92%) and USA’s “Psych” (90.3%) rounding out the top 5.

NBC Shows Most Engaging

NBC’s “Grimm” was the most engaging program of the year, meaning that it had the highest percentage of viewers who could recall within 24 hours the network content they were exposed to during the normal course of viewing TV. However, the show only accounted for 2% share of buzz volume among the top 10 most engaging primetime programs. Of those, NBC’s “Chuck” had the majority of online buzz during 2011, with 54% share of mentions, according to the analysis. The show placed sixth on the list of top 10 most engaging programs of the year.

Fox Shows Get Most Comments

According to December data from SocialGuide, though, Fox led all broadcast networks in 2011 buzz, earning 27.4 million social comments, ahead of ABC (17.8 million), CBS (16.8 million), and NBC (16.1 million). MTV (8.8 million) led all cable networks, beating out ESPN (7.9 million) for the top spot.

Other Findings:

  • “Jersey Shore” was the most social TV series, with 3.9 million comments, ahead of “SpongeBob SquarePants” (3.2 million) and “The X Factor” (2.2 million).
  • Game 6 of the NBA Finals was the most social sports event, generating 1.1 million comments.
  • The most social TV special was the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, with 1.5 million comments.
  • Social TV comments grew 86% between May and November 2011, from 16.5 million to 36.7 million.

About the Data: Nielsen’s top individual telecasts data is from January 1, 2011 – November 27, 2011 and includes English- and Spanish-language telecasts on Broadcast and Cable, but excludes telecasts under 5 minutes in duration. Persons 2+ estimates include Live and Same Day timeshifted viewing. Top primetime programs data uses same measurements but also excludes programs with less than 4 telecasts.

The timeshifted viewing data is from January 1, 2011 – November 13, 2011 and includes regularly scheduled English- and Spanish-language programs on Broadcast and Cable. The percent increase in Persons 2+ viewership is based on difference between Live+7 and Live. A program must reach at least a 1.0 Live+7 P2+ Rating and have at least 4 telecasts.

The program engagement data is from January 1 – December 5, 2011, and includes regularly scheduled entertainment series with at least three telecasts, original airings and repeats. The buzz data is from NM Incite and analyzes the period of time from January 1 – December 18, 2011.

SocialGuide captured more than 225 million social TV comments from 17 million uniques, matching the comments to more than 37,000 TV programs. The series and network data was aggregated over the reporting period of May 1 – December 15, 2011.