Examining ‘Idol’s’ Upscale Draw

Feb 28, 2007  •  Post A Comment

No show gets more upscale viewers than “American Idol.”
That’s mostly because no show gets more viewers than “Idol.” Simon, Randy and Paula, along with the return of “24,” have boosted Fox in upscale viewers, a category important to marketers of big-ticket items such as luxury cars, financial services, travel and entertainment.
But having a lot of upscale viewers is only part of the story, and that’s why a show such as “Brothers & Sisters” could be a bargain for advertisers looking for big spenders.
“There is often a difference between programs that reach the most upscale viewers and those that have the greatest upscale skew,” said a recent report from ad buyer Magna Global. “A number of shows have such high ratings among total viewers, they invariably rank highly among most demographic segments, including upscale viewers, but their audiences are so broad that they do not rank highly in terms of upscale audience concentration.”
What Magna does is calculate the portion of each show’s audience that’s in the 25-to-54 age bracket living in households with incomes of more than $100,000; it then creates an index that compares the show’s proportion to the 10.41 percent of the total population that is in that demographic.
So while “Idol” is tops in the total number of upscale viewers it attracts, in terms of Magna’s index, “Idol” ranks just 36th among the 151 network shows in the Magna Report, with an above-average 124 on Wednesday nights.
In another measure of upscale audience, “Idol” viewers have a median income of $63,000 a year, which ranks it 26th among all shows.
With “Idol” back on the air, Fox’s index is 98 and its median income is $55,000. That trails the leader, ABC, which has an index of 127 and a median income of $62,000. NBC’s index is 120 and its median income is $60,000. CBS has a 91 index and a median income of $57,000. The CW has a 63 index and a median income of $44,000.
Among individual shows, ABC’s “Brothers & Sisters” had the highest index at 173. It also had the third-highest median income at $69,000 and the ninth-highest rating in the 25-54 demographic in households with $100,000 plus in annual income.
ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” was fourth in index, first in median income at $70,000 (tied with NBC’s latest edition of “The Apprentice”) and third in upscale rating. “Grey’s Anatomy,” also on ABC, was 13th in index, fourth in median income at $67,000 and fourth in rating. Fox’s “24” is fifth in index, seventh in income at $65,000 and fifth in rating.
Other programs in the top 10 in index are “Scrubs,” “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “The Biggest Loser” and “In Case of Emergency.”
Other top shows in terms of median income include “The Office,” “Saturday Night College Football” on ABC, “Studio 60,” “Biggest Loser,” “What About Brian,” “The Bachelor,” “Boston Legal,” “Six Degrees,” “Lost,” “The Amazing Race,” NBC’s Sunday Night Pre-NFL Kickoff show, “Two and a Half Men,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” and “60 Minutes,” all at $65,000 or above.


  1. This is good info! Where else can if ind out more?? Who runs this joint too? Keep up the good work 🙂

  2. Interesting layout on your blog. I really enjoyed reading it and also I will be back to read more in the future.

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