TiVo: Old Shows Fare Better Than New Ones

Only six days before premiere week, TiVo's rankings of the shows people anticipate most this season offer few surprises. The top shows continue to generate the most excitement. Fox shows that have already launched are high on the list.

TiVo's top-25 countdown shows that its 4.4 million homes have opted to "Season Pass" or record every episode of a program. Leading the charge: ABC's "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy." Fox's "House"--which has already launched--and ABC's "Lost," CBS' "CSI" and "CSI: Miami" follow. All six finished last season in the top 10 among adults 18-to-49.

Two other lower-rated but already-launched Fox shows--"Prison Break" and "Family Guy"--are in the top 10, while the FX cable hit that started its new season a week ago, "Nip/Tuck," is ranked ninth.

The good news for NBC is that "ER," which has faded in recent years, is ranked 10th.

While it's difficult to gauge how effective networks' preseason marketing campaigns are, the TiVo rankings shed some light on which shows garner the most buzz. Of special concern for the networks--no new show--not the much-hyped "Studio 60" on NBC or "Ugly Betty" on ABC--made the top 25. Then again, many people have TiVo in order to skip ads. The networks' most effective marketing weapons are on-air promos, which are susceptible to being zapped along with other spots.

Network executives also have argued that TiVo users are hardly a reflection of the population at large. They contend that the 4.4 million homes not only make up a small sample but an unbalanced one, since TiVo users may be more upscale and early-adopter--and techno-savvy.

While NBC faces formidable competition on Thursdays, TiVo users seem to have particular interest in comedies "My Name is Earl" and "The Office," which ranked 11th and 12th, respectively.

ABC's "Boston Legal," which finished last season ranked 68th among viewers 18-to-49, has some resonance in the TiVo subset--ranking 13th.

Also, the redoubtable "Law & Order" franchise still has life in TiVo-land, with all three versions in the top 25.

There is also evidence that the one-time hot comedy genre is on a cold streak. Only four made the top 25. CBS' "Two and a Half Men" joined "Family Guy," "The Office," and "Earl" as the only ones in the rankings.

Cable hit "Project Runway," which is in mid-season, is ranked 25th.

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