'American Idol' tops year-end tally

As if to certify that time-shifted TV viewing had attained techno-cultural significance, it’s now the subject of a year-end top 10 list, as the Nielsen Co. has issued a ranking of the programs that saw the biggest increases in DVR use in 2008.

Mimicking their boffo live-TV performance, the Tuesday and Wednesday airings of Fox’s “American Idol” topped the list, with live-plus-seven viewing adding 2.15 million and 1.95 million households, respectively, to their “live only” tallies. (Nielsen did not rank the shows by total viewers — the more commonly used measurement.)

Seven of the remaining eight standouts were scripted dramas, including the sci-fi faves “Heroes” (1.83 million), “Lost” (1.79 million) and “Fringe” (1.60 million). “House” (1.45 million), CBS rookie “The Mentalist” (1.45 million), “Survivor” (1.40 million), “Grey’s Anatomy” (1.36 million) and “Bones” (1.33 million) also made the top 10.

Cable skeins were much more in evidence in a second list that ranked shows in order of the percentage increase attributable to time-shifted viewing. There, Sci Fi’s “Battlestar Galactica” came out on top, notching a whopping 53% jump in households. USA action skein “Burn Notice” was the runner-up with a 37% increase, followed by broadcast skeins “Heroes” and “90210” (both 35%).

Other strong cable showings included Sci Fi’s “Sanctuary” (35%) and “Eureka” (34%); TBS laffer “My Boys” (32%); and USA’s “Psych,” “In Plain Sight,” and “The Starter Wife” (29%, 28% and 27%, respectively).

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