- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The year is drawing to a close and you know what that means: It’s time to look back at some of the most popular media trends of 2006.

For the first time, Nielsen media tracking companies have issued a series of “most popular” — though not necessarily “best of” — top 10 lists for the year.

Reality shows cleaned up when it comes to the most popular regularly scheduled television programs of 2006, occupying the first three of the top 19 spots, according to Nielsen Media Research, which counted live viewing with same-day, time-shifted viewing. Coming in at No. 1 and No. 2 are (surprise) Fox’s “American Idol” shows on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In third place was “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC. Next were “CSI” on CBS and the results broadcast of “Dancing with the Stars.”

Rounding out the list: “NBC Sunday Night Football”; “CSI: Miami” on CBS; “Desperate Housewives” on ABC; “House” on Fox; and “Deal or No Deal” on NBC” and “Without a Trace” on CBS.

ABC had the top-five most-watched single telecasts of the year, with the Super Bowl, its post-game show, the Academy Awards, the Rose Bowl and the Feb. 5 episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Shows six through 10 belonged to Fox, with the NFL’s NFC Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers followed by four episodes of “American Idol.”

Traditional advertising

The top spender on traditional — i.e., everything but online — advertising in 2006 was Procter & Gamble, maker of Bounty paper towels, Crest toothpaste and Duracell batteries, which spent $2.9 billion from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Second-place General Motors slashed traditional advertising by 16 percent to $1.95 billion as AT&T; stepped up its spending 47 percent to $1.44 billion. Ford spent $1.42 billion, up 13 percent from last year, compared with DaimlerChrysler, which cut back 6 percent to $1.3 billion.

The sixth-biggest spender was Time Warner, shelling out $1.16 billion, down 12 percent from last year. Traditional ad dollars spent climbed 20 percent at Verizon, which paid $1.13 billion. Toyota upped its spending 15 percent to $1.09 billion, while Altria (owner of Kraft Foods and Philip Morris USA) stayed at $1.04 billion. Walt Disney was the 10th-biggest spender at $1.03 billion, a 1 percent jump over last year.

Web trends

Nielsen/NetRatings ranks Yahoo as the most popular Web brand by page views, weighing in at 354.5 billion, compared with MySpace at 250.7 billion views and Google at 147.7 billion. At fourth, EBay had 143.4 billion views, followed by MSN at 141.2 billion. AOL was sixth at 73.1 billion.

In other news

The Public Broadcasting Service is asking for audience help in choosing its next science series.

On New Year’s Day, PBS will debut three pilots online, followed by television broadcasts starting Wednesday. The potential shows are “Wired Science,” “Science Investigators” and “22nd Century.”

The network is asking viewers to weigh in by submitting online reviews via pbs.org. PBS says it will rely on that feedback in giving the go-ahead to the winning pilot, which will premiere in an initial 10-week run in the fall.

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