Skip to Content

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]

All reality blurred content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.

More great stories

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


I value our community at reality blurred, which connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

Comment rules: My goal is for us to be able to share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space. That’s why I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to them.

Happy discussing!