Nine of 10 product-placing shows were reality shows, which also were four of the five most-watched shows of 2006

Nielsen’s year-end lists are out, and unsurprisingly, the most popular television show of 2006 was American Idol. American Idol also ranked second for its results show, while Dancing with the Stars came in third and fifth for its performance and results shows, respectively. Thus, four of the five most-watched TV shows in 2006 were reality TV.

In terms of single nights of TV, the only reality show represented in the top 10 was, naturally, Idol, which took the seventh through tenth spots for its May 24 (the finale), Jan. 24, Jan. 17 (the debut), and March 21 broadcasts. Among shows that people watched via their DVRs (e.g., not live), America’s Next Top Model placed fourth, the only reality show on the list.

Reality TV’s influence was felt even on non-TV related lists; with 1.88 million copies sold, Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” was the “most digitally downloaded” song of the year. That song, of course, was used during American Idol‘s audition episodes, and then beaten into the ground and destroyed when it was used as the goodbye music for every finalist.

In the least-surprising but still most shocking news, nine of the 10 top broadcast programs for product placement were reality shows. Here is Nielsen’s list of shows and the (shocking) number of product placements:

  1. American Idol, 4086
  2. Amazing Race, 2790
  3. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, 2701
  4. The Biggest Loser, 2405
  5. America’s Next Top Model, 2309
  6. Hell’s Kitchen, 1909
  7. The Apprentice, 1831
  8. King of Queens, 1742
  9. Rock Star: Supernova, 1609
  10. Big Brother 7, 1591
Nielsen Issues Most Popular Lists for 2006 [Nielsen press release]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.