'American Idol,' 'Glee' and 'Dancing with the Stars' Top Content Power Ratings


Optimedia U.S. says "Glee" may be well behind in the Nielsen ratings, but it is the top "Idol" challenger, while "Two and a Half Men" continues to have strong audience equity.


NEW YORK - American Idol, Glee and Dancing with the Stars are the top three TV shows in the Content Power Ratings for 2010 that media agency Optimedia U.S. unveiled Thursday and that look at TV shows' overall viewer equity based on audience delivery (across TV, Internet and mobile), involvement and advocacy, particularly in the social media realm.

While Idol and Dancing are the first- and third-ranked programs in Nielsen ratings, Glee is in one of the top spots despite being only no. 55 in the Nielsen ratings. Optimedia U.S. cited its strong audience loyalty and advocacy as the key factors.

South Park and Family Guy, ranked 211th and 88th in the Nielsen ratings, round out the top five, according to media agency, which announced its latest findings just ahead of upfront week.

Last year's top five shows in the ranking, which the company has done since 2008, were Idol, Lost, Dancing, Grey's Anatomy - which this year dropped to number 11 - and House - down to 14.

Two and a Half Men continues to have "real equity" and moved up from the 15th to the 10th spot last year as it performed well in all three measures, according to Optimedia.

Greg Kahn, executive vp, business development director at Optimedia U.S., said the firm is keeping an eye on how the show is doing as Charlie Sheen won't be called back and how possible replacements for the show's former star may affect it, but so far this year, the firm has seen "no slowdown in the popularity of and interest in the show."

Bubble shows with good chances if they get renewed for the fall season include NBC's The Event and Chuck, as well as CSI: NY, according to Optimedia.

But Human Target, which already got cancelled, Law & Order: LA and Hellcats are among the "challenged" series, Kahn said.

Beyond the music-themed top shows, Boardwalk Empire was the top-ranked new show on the Optimedia list at number 21 as a rabid fan base made up for a relatively small audience. Hawaii Five-0 and The Event followed in the ranking of top new shows.

Most improved series in the overall rankings were The Big Bang Theory, which moved from the 24th into the eighth spot, Modern Family, which ranks 16th, up from spot 50, The Vampire Diaries (from 61 to 29), Cougar Town (95 to 42) and Breaking Bad (92 to 75).

South Park is the most-watched show online, and Family Guy has more Facebook friends than any other series, according to Optimedia.

Social media winners highlighted by Optimedia include Idol and Comedy Central's Tosh.0, which the firm said has grown its ratings driven by high engagement on Twitter.

Positive social media buzz also helped such shows as Chuck, which took the top spot in this category, and The Game, which ranked sixth. Both shows avoided cancellation partially due to online buzz, Kahn highlighted.

Optimedia's ranking of late-night shows put Saturday Night Live on top, followed by Conan and The Daily Show.

Idol last year showed its "unparalleled staying power," even ahead of its new panel of judges, said Kahn. He pointed out its top Nielsen ratings position and its number one position in the number of Web visits and in the comScore mobile rating.

Meanwhile, Glee is a true "powerhouse" and the top challenger to Idol's dominance thanks to such things as 13 million Facebook friends, its number one ranking in terms of press mentions and nearly all-positive online buzz, he said.

Good shows for advertisers to get involved with include high-impact dramas, such as Mad Men, competitive reality series, such as Idol and Top Chef, as well as comedies with a distinct voice, such as Modern Family, The Office and Cougar Town, as well as young-skewing shows, such as Jersey Shore, said Maureen Bosetti, executive vp, group director national TV investments at Opimedia U.S.

Speaking of Jersey Shore: it ranks 19th as the second-highest scoring cable TV show in the Optimedia ranking.

The Optimedia team said it is looking for several things in next week's upfront presentation. Among them are answers to these questions: Will the be more original content online? Will there be more nights of comedy? And will there be new marketing extensions tied to using social media on-air?

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai