After analyzing the most recent two weeks of Nielsen television ratings and reviewing the BuddyTV FPR (Fan Popularity Rankings), many interesting observations and trends pop out. To begin, here are some quick hits from Nielsen television ratings from September 25, 2006 to October 1, 2006 and from October 2, 2006 to October 8, 2006:

Programs that dropped from the Top 10 include:

  • Criminal Minds from being tied at #6 two weeks ago to #13
  • NBC Sunday Night Football from being tied at #6 two weeks ago to #15
  • Ugly Betty from being tied at #6 two weeks ago to #18
  • CSI: NY from #10 two weeks ago to #11

Programs that jumped into the Top 10 include:

  • Lost at #4
  • NCIS at #8
  • Survivor: Cook Islands at #9
  • Two and a Half Men at #10

ABC and CBS continued their trend of dominating the Top 10 Nielsen ratings. The most recent week of October 2 to October 8, saw ABC and CBS capture all ten of the Top 10 spots. In the most recent week, ABC placed Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Lost, and NCIS. While CBS rounded out the other five Top 10 spots with CSI, Dancing with the Stars, CSI: Miami, Dancing with the Stars Results, Survivor: Cook Islands, and Two and a Half Men. Fox did not place any television programs in the Top 10, but this is also attributed to the baseball playoffs which they are airing right now. NBC’s lone television show that placed in the Top 10 two weeks ago, Sunday Night Football, did not place this most recent week. Much of their success in breaking in to the Top 10 for Sunday Night Football will rely on the two football teams that are playing. This week’s upcoming game between Oakland and Denver surely will not draw enough users to vault them back into the Top 10. Even with special events, like Baseball Playoffs, I had to do a doubletake as nether NBC nor Fox placed any television programs in the Top 10. But do not hold your breath too long as Fox will save a lot of face and make a lot of money with upcoming shows like the mighty American Idol which no program is poised to topple this season. Nonetheless, I’m still surprised at the sheer dominance of ABC and CBS. In particular, I like ABC mix of Top 10 programs. ABC’s hit list includes Desperate Housewives, a drama-comedy, mixed with Lost, drama-thriller, and the surprising hit reality TV show, Dancing with the Stars (which they get a double bonus like American Idol with the competition on Tuesday followed by the results on Wednesday). ABC formidable lineup is more difficult to assemble yet also has longer potential staying power because its hit shows are more diverse in nature. Juxtaposing that with CBS, one can see that CBS is much more concentrated with its current streak powered by hit crime related shows like CSI and NCIS. On the one hand, it makes sense that while the going is good that CBS would invest more into their bread and butter crime related television show empire. On the hand, I would not want to be the executive at CBS when audiences suddenly tire of crime related shows with no other significant shows to rely on. Thus, I’m sure the executives at CBS would not mind seeing some diversification and hits with such shows as Two and a Half Men. In addition to the wonderful data that Nielsen publicly provides, I was able to also beg, plead, and cajole some interesting data from the BuddyTV production team. They provided me their Top 10 list of television shows based on their internal FPR or Fan Popularity Ranking. Simply put, they count during the same time period the unique number of page views each television program gets on their television show pages and then aggregate them. To keep it consistent with the Nielsen ratings, they also only selected broadcast television shows that were on-air. Of course, due to many reasons the Nielsen and BuddyTV FPR rankings do not sync one-to-one. I’m not surprised that the popular shows in Nielsen are also highly represented in the BuddyTV FPR. In addition, it makes sense to me that science fiction shows (Jericho and Heroes), cult favorites (The Office), and reality television programs (Survivor) would perform well in the BuddyTV FPR as fans research those show online and connect with other fans. I am surprised that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip performed so well two weeks running. I am also shocked that not one of the crime related CBS shows placed high in the BuddyTV FPR. This is a trend to keep an eye on as convergence between the internet and television accelerates, especially for the younger generation. My Predictions:

  • Grey’s Anatomy will maintain its slim lead over CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for at least one more week.
  • CBS will continue to flood the Nielsen Top 10 on the strength of its crime related hit shows while ABC does the same with its more diversified portfolio of shows.
  • NBC will continue to jump in and out of the Nielsen Top 10 depending on how good the 2 football teams are that are playing on Sunday Night Football. And no reinforcements are imminent as NBC other shows are not displaying strong enough momentum to climb into the Top 10. The caveat is Heroes, as given their high BuddyTV FPR and press recently, I would think that NBC has a chance to pop into the Nielsen Top 10 with Heroes.
  • With the pruning of Smith by CBS other networks are going to be taking hard looks at their hits and duds. The hardest decision will probably lie with NBC with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip because of the tremendous positive reviews, hype, investment, and from its high BuddyTV FPR. So for NBC, are sunk costs sunk for them now? Or are they going to double down?
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-BuddyTV Contributing Columnist