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Tops In 2008 Top TV Programs, Single Telecasts
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Tops In 2008 Top TV Programs, Single Telecasts

Nielsen has issued a year-end look at the most popular trends among Americans during 2008, covering everything from the top TV programs to the most popular consumer packaged goods.

FOX’s “American Idol” was the top TV program of 2008, according to Nielsen.  Tuesday night broadcasts of “American Idol,” through December 7, drew 15.5% of U.S. TV households, on average, while Wednesday night “American Idol” broadcasts drew an average of 15.3% of all TV households.

Viewers with DVR access gave NBC’s “Heroes” the biggest bump any primetime program received in 2008.  The average TV audience for “Heroes” increased by 35% when timeshifted viewing within seven days of a program’s original air date was factored into Nielsen’s ratings.  FOX’s “Fringe” and ABC’s “Lost” also drew large audience boosts — +26% and +25%, respectively — from DVR viewers.

The 2008 Superbowl, which drew 43.1% of all U.S. TV households, was the most popular single telecast of 2008. 

Top 10 TV Programs – Regularly Scheduled

Rank Program Network % of Homes In U.S.

(Rating)

1 AMERICAN IDOL-TUESDAY FOX 15.5%
2 AMERICAN IDOL-WEDNESDAY FOX 15.3%
3 DANCING WITH THE STARS ABC 12.3%
4 DANCING W/STARS RESULTS ABC 11.4%
5 MENTALIST, THE CBS 10.0%
6 NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL NBC 10.0%
7 CSI CBS 8.1%
8 NCIS CBS 8.0%
9 60 MINUTES CBS 7.6%
10 SURVIVOR: GABON CBS 7.6%
Source: The Nielsen Company (January 1 – December 7, 2008).
Note: Household Ratings include Live and Same Day timeshifted viewing. Data excludes telecasts under five minutes.

Top 10 TV Programs – Single Telecast

Rank Telecast Network Date Aired % Of Homes

In U.S.

(Rating)

1 FOX SUPER BOWL XLII FOX 2/3/2008 43.1%
2 FOX SUPER BOWL POST GAME FOX 2/3/2008 30.1%
3 FOX NFC CHAMPIONSHIP FOX 1/20/2008 29.0%
4 SUMMER OLYMPICS TUE PRIME 1 NBC 8/12/2008 20.0%
5 FOX NFC PLAYOFF-PST-SUN FOX 1/13/2008 18.8%
6 SUMMER OLYMPICS OPEN CEREM NBC 8/8/2008 18.8%
7 ACADEMY AWARDS ABC 2/24/2008 18.7%
8 SUMMER OLYMPICS SUN PRIME 1 NBC 8/10/2008 18.1%
9 AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF CBS 1/12/2008 17.9%
10 SUMMER OLYMPICS THU PRIME 1 NBC 8/14/2008 17.9%
Source: The Nielsen Company (January 1 – December 7, 2008).
Note: Household Ratings include Live and Same Day timeshifted viewing. Data excludes telecasts under five minutes.

Top 10 “Timeshifted” Primetime TV Programs

Rank Program Network % Increase

In Viewership

1 HEROES NBC 35%
2 FRINGE FOX 26%
3 LOST ABC 25%
4 BONES FOX 21%
5 GREY’S ANATOMY-THU 9PM ABC 20%
6 HOUSE FOX 18%
7 SURVIVOR: GABON CBS 18%
8 AMERICAN IDOL-TUESDAY FOX 13%
9 MENTALIST, THE CBS 13%
10 AMERICAN IDOL-WEDNESDAY FOX 12%
Source: The Nielsen Company (January 1 – November 23, 2008).
Note: Percent Increase in viewership is based on absolute difference between Live Household Ratings and Live+7.

View the press release.

Relive the greatest hits of 2008 — stay tuned on Nielsen Wire for more Tops In 2008 coverage.

Look ahead to the new year with Nielsen Wire’s 2009 Industry Outlook series.