Leaders and those who play catch-up

"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" has struggled in the ratings this season, but it does top one list from Nielsen Media Research: It was the year's most "timeshifted" prime-time series.

The ratings company reported last week that the audience for each episode of the Monday night drama rose by an average 10.9% over the course of the next seven days as people who recorded it that night caught up with the latest installment on tape or digital recorder.

That jump easily beat the two runners-up: NBC's "Heroes" at 9.1% and the CW's "Gilmore Girls" at 7.9%.

But in terms of sheer numbers of people tuning in weekly, nothing topped "American Idol" this year. The Fox talent show captured both the first and second spot on the Nielsen list of 2006's most popular series -- the Tuesday installment at No. 1, Wednesday's at No. 2.

Another talent competition, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," also captured two spots on that list: No. 3 for the performance show, No. 5 for the results program. Sandwiched at No. 4 was CBS' drama "CSI."

"American Idol" was No. 1 in another category for 2006: Most product placements on a broadcast network show. Nielsen reported 4,086 occurrences, compared with 2,790 for runner-up "Amazing Race" on CBS.

-- Lee Margulies

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