'American Idol' Tops Optimedia List Going Into Upfront

Media Agency's Content Power Ratings Aim to Rank Shows by Audience Involvement

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- TV's top-rated show, "American Idol," also topped the Content Power Ratings list put together by media buyer Optimedia U.S. But the list, released today, held some surprising shows as well.

'American Idol'
'American Idol' Credit: Fox
To create the Content Power Ratings list, Optimedia factors in TV audience, web and mobile viewing, viewer involvement, and viewer advocacy for the content.

While "Idol" also ranked No. 1 in 2008, some of the other shows in the top five aren't huge ratings generators.

ABC's "Lost" took the No. 2 spot, NBC's "The Office" ranked No. 3 and ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" was the No. 4 show. ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" took fifth place.

No cable shows made it into the top 25. The top cable show in Optimedia's ranking was AMC's "Mad Men," a show that has won numerous awards and is a darling of critics but has not drawn huge ratings. "Mad Men" ranked No. 30 overall.

Showtime's "Dexter" was another strong cable show on the Content Power Ratings list, at the No. 33 spot. The program is the kind of water-cooler show that also did well online and with the press.

Comedies did better than last year, as did shows with science-fiction themes, said Optimedia U.S. CEO Antony Young.

"TV isn't TV anymore. Agencies buy shows, not ratings," Mr. Young said.

"Involvement is a staple for advertisers," he said, especially as product placement and brand integration become bigger part of ad-buying strategies.

Mr. Young said cross-platform extensions will be an important factor in deciding which TV shows the agency chooses to buy for its clients. "Online is not going away," he said. "It's a complementary medium to the TV experience."

Shows on the CW showed renewed life on the Content Power Ratings list, Mr. Young said. Optimedia also looked at late-night programming and found that "Saturday Night Live," "The Daily Show," and "The Colbert Report" were the top-ranking shows.

The rankings will be a factor as the agency goes into the upfront ad-buying process.

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Jon Lafeyette is a senior editor for TV Week.

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