Want to Squelch Ad Skipping? Try Song and Dance

'Dancing With the Stars,' 'American Idol' Have the Highest Projected Ratings

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Much has been made about how to prevent ad zapping, but it looks as if dancing and singing might just do the trick. An Advertising Age survey of media-buyer projections of commercial ratings for the fall season reveals that Fox's "American Idol" and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" will have the highest "C3" ratings -- those households that will watch the ads within three days of a program's original air date.

What will be watched

What will be watched
An Ad Age survey of media-buyer projections of commercial ratings for the fall season
"'Idol' will still be strong," said Shari Anne Brill, senior VP-director of programming at Aegis Group's Carat. "I'd expect Monday will remain very strong for ABC because of 'Dancing With the Stars." They are fox-trotting away with the night."

The Tuesday edition of "American Idol" will notch a 13.2, and the Wednesday results are predicted to be 13.1. Meanwhile, "Dancing With the Stars" will capture a 12.2 on Monday nights, powering Walt Disney's ABC to its strongest night of the week. The "DWTS" results show is expected to win an 11.5 household rating on Tuesday nights in the fall. Other top-performing programs will include both CBS's "CSI" and ABC's "Desperate Housewives," at 9.6; CBS's "60 Minutes," expected to notch a 9; NBC's "Sunday Night Football," expected to score 8.9; CBS's "NCIS," expected to capture an 8.7; ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," expected to stitch up 8.5; CBS's "CSI: Miami," seen tracking down 8.3; and Fox's "House," expected to earn 8.1 on Tuesdays in the fall.

Ad Age's survey is compiled by averaging fourth-quarter C3 household estimates from four major media agencies. Since the start of the 2007-2008 TV season, advertisers have crafted transactions based on C3 ratings, rather than the traditional program ratings and share. The effect this has had on networks is evident: "Desperate Housewives" on ABC was expected to secure a household share of 16 in 2007; now it is expected to capture a C3 rating of 9.6.

Lowered expectations
One media buyer said the five networks are closer than they may seem at first glance. Stripping out hits such as "Idol" and "Dancing," said Sam Armando, senior VP-director of video research at Publicis Groupe's Starcom USA, "a lot of those ratings gaps are pretty narrow, and I don't see -- at least at this point -- any network really taking off. We have a lot of returning shows. When that happens, you don't traditionally expect a lot of heightened audience."

Among new programs, CBS's "Eleventh Hour" scores the highest, with 7.3. Fox's "Fringe," produced by J.J. Abrams, is next with a 5.8, and ABC's "Life on Mars" gets a 4.7. Thanks to this year's writers strike, the networks' ability to develop new programs has been crimped, and most new shows won't debut until after the official start of the TV season.

Sunday night appears to be the evening that boasts the most C3 ratings points, but that comes due to programs that air at 7 p.m. being included in the tally. During the workweek, Monday night generates the most C3 points, owing to ABC's "Dancing" and "Samantha Who?," CBS's series of Monday-night comedies, including "Two and a Half Men" (7.2) and "CSI: Miami"; plus NBC's "Heroes" and Fox's "Prison Break." Thursday night is also competitive, owing in part to CBS's lineup and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy."

CBS wins the C3 battle on most nights and is second to ABC only on Sundays and Mondays. Meanwhile, the CW's strongest show is expected to be "America's Next Top Model," which buyers said will notch a 2.5. The network's "Gossip Girl" is expected to get only a 1.6.
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