If Your Show Had 'Idol,' 'Dancing' or 'NCIS' in the Title, It Had a Great Year in the Ratings


Year-end Nielsen recaps in the late '00s feel like a week-two American Idol results show: predictable, obligatory, cynical even without the commentary (or the jilted Alexis Grace). This year the rankings number the usual suspects and crown the same "regularly scheduled program" champ as in 2008. However, one new entry to the list makes middle-aged lawyering seem as watchable as Bruno Tonioli's big, stupid screaming.

Top 10 TV Programs - Regularly Scheduled Programs Network % of Homes in U.S. (Rating)

1 American Idol-Wednesday FOX 14.4

2 American Idol-Tuesday FOX 13.8

3 Dancing with the Stars ABC 12.0

4 NBC Sunday Night Football NBC 11.7

5 Dancing with the Stars - Results Show ABC 9.9

6 NCIS: Los Angeles CBS 9.8

7 NCIS CBS 9.4

8 NFL Regular Season L ESPN 8.8

8 Sunday Night NFL Pre-kick NBC 8.8

10 The Good Wife CBS 8.5

Yada, yada, American Idol wins, Dancing with the Stars and NCIS iterations round out the big show. Shazam. But wait, what's that sitting at #10? I'll be. It's our old pretty decent friend The Good Wife. Like all survivors of the 1990s, I'm a Marguelista at heart. Congrats to the former Carol Hathaway, the current Chris Noth, and the immortal sneer of Christine Baranski.

Other stats:

Top 10 TV Programs - Single Telecast

1 Super Bowl XLIII NBC 02/01/2009 42.0

2 Super Bowl Pre-Kick NBC 02/01/2009 35.2

3 Super Bowl Kick-Off NBC 02/01/2009 29.6

4 Super Bowl Post NBC 02/01/2009 25.7

5 AFC Championship On CBS CBS 01/18/2009 22.0

6 Fox NFC Championship FOX 01/18/2009 21.9

7 Academy Awards ABC 02/22/2009 20.6

8 AFC Divisional Playoff CBS 01/11/2009 19.6

9 Fox NFC Playoff FOX 01/11/2009 18.7

10 Fox NFC Wildcard Game FOX 01/04/2009 17.6

Top 10 "Timeshifted" Primetime TV Programs Rank Programs -- Network % Increase of Timeshifted Viewing

1 Battlestar Galactica SYFY 59.4

2 Mad Men AMC 57.7

3 Damages FX 56.3

4 Rescue Me FX 53.2

5 True Blood HBO 46.9

5 Stargate Universe SYFY 46.9

7 Sanctuary SYFY 45.9

7 Heroes NBC 45.9

9 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles FOX 45.5

10 10 Things I Hate About You ABC Family 44.9

10 Dollhouse FOX 44.9

10 Melrose Place CW 44.9

Mad Men didn't place on the time-shifted (meaning "recorded and viewed later") list at all last year, so its ratings could've inflated, literally, thanks to Peggy Olson's manly puffing. I was all set to praise Melrose Place's #10 position except then I noticed the show at #9, and, erm, apparently sometimes percentage gains don't mean so much.

· Nielsen's Top 10 Shows of 2009

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