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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Nielsen's top 10 of 2011: Super Bowl most-watched TV broadcast, American Idol most-watched series

21

December

idolcast1.jpgTV ratings company Nielsen's list of top TV shows for 2011 held few surprises this year, with American Idol as the most-watched series and three broadcasts comprising Fox's Super Bowl coverage -- which made history as the most-watched episode of television ever -- as the top individual episodes.

The flaw in such rankings, of course, is that the TV industry doesn't usually make money on overall viewership; they sell access to collections of viewers grouped by age and gender, with young men the most valued commodity.

So even though the big shows also have lots of young viewers, there are other shows which might be nearly as successful financially with much smaller audiences.

The stats also show how sports and certain kinds of reality TV competitions have become virtually the only programs which regularly draw a large, wide-ranging crowd of viewers. The rest of the time, we're too buried in our own particular televised passions to gather in big groups at the same time.

Click here to see the full range of Nielsen's TV lists, including rankings for most time-shifted and most engaging shows:

Top 10 Primetime TV Programs –       Rating  Total Viewers (000)
1. American Idol-Wednesday FOX           8.1       23,946
2. American Idol-Thursday FOX               7.5       22,009
3. NBC Sunday Night Football NBC          7.1       20,547
4. Dancing with The Stars ABC                6.7       19,576
5. Dancing w/ Stars Results ABC             5.8       16,856
6. Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick NBC           5.5       15,918
7. NCIS CBS                                            5.2       15,174
8. NFL Regular Season L ESPN                4.5       13,058
9. The OT FOX                                         4.4       12,877
10. NCIS: Los Angeles CBS                     4.3       12,635

Top 10 TV Programs – Single Telecast                   Rating  Total Viewers (000)
1. Super Bowl XLV FOX 2/6/2011                                37.7     111,041
2. Super Bowl XLV Kickoff FOX 2/6/2011                     23.6      69,666
3. Super Bowl Post Game FOX 2/6/2011                     22.4      66,030
4. AFC Championship on CBS  1/23/2011                   18.6      54,850
5. NFC Championship FOX 1/23/2011                         17.6      51,884
6. AFC Divisional Playoff-SU CBS 1/16/2011                14.8      43,463
7. AFC Championship Pre-Kick on CBS 1/23/2011       13.4      39,473
8. NFC Wild Card Game FOX 1/9/2011                         13.3      39,274
9. Academy Awards ABC  2/27/2011                            12.9      37,922
10. Super Bowl Pre FOX 2/6/2011                                11.9     35,136
 

[Last modified: Thursday, December 22, 2011 2:19pm]

    

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