American Idol tops US TV money makers

Forbes has tallied its annual list of the biggest TV moneymakers and American Idol led the list for 2010.

Idol delivered $7.11 million every half hour last year, down 12 percent from 2009. But last year’s season was pretty shaky.

That was followed by CBS’ Two and a Half Men, with $2.89 million per half hour. But while Charlie Sheen may have been valuable to the network, showrunner Chuck Lorre has three shows in the Top 10.

Noticeably missing from the list are hot newer shows like Glee and Modern Family. Both almost made the list: Glee brings in $2 million per half hour, which would rank it 11th, and Modern Family earns $1.6 million, which would rank it 16th.

Here’s the Top 10 for 2010:

1. American Idol (Fox) $7.1 million
2. Two and a Half Men (CBS) $2.89 million
3. Desperate Housewives (ABC) $2.74 million
4. Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) $2.67 million
5. Dancing With the Stars (ABC) $2.67 million
6. Lost (ABC) $2.60 million
7. The Big Bang Theory (CBS) $2.50 million
8. 24 (Fox) $2.45 million
9. Private Practice (ABC) $2.32 million
10. Mike & Molly (CBS) $2.11 million

Any thoughts on an Aussie top ten? Excluding sport, you could probably start with MasterChef and Rafters. But that’s just a guess….

Source: Forbes, EW


  1. @ steve it’s the perception that counts, advertisers Believe that Lost and Housewives can bring in money to their organisation, thus they are willing to pay more for an advertisement spot during those shows, realistically, they may have more than 12million US viewers watching episodes of Housewives every week, there may be less, these numbers we get are all predictions and are done by regression analysis. In Australia, about m400 or so households represent every viewer, so if you are not one of those 400 or so households that has a box on their screen that records their viewing acitivities, what you and I – I’m presuming you are not one of these households – watch everyday/night is meaningless at best.

  2. Was anybody really surprised? American Idol is the most senesationalised and been a behemoth ratings wise pretty much since the downfall of scripted TV began in 2004-2005ish. Add to that the fact that each person who sends in an SMS or calls means that Idol gets $x per.

    As for Aus – we for some reason cannot resist the urge to flock to reality TV shows, because we all think that we can be just like them. Also, it doesn’t take alot of thinking, since after every adbreak, they all feel the need summarize what happened… 2 minutes ago.

  3. Funny how Lost and Desperate Housewives are still up there considering their most recent seasons didn’t rate as well as their first couple of seasons

  4. Aussie Top Ten would have to include the morning shows like Morning Show, KAK and The Circle as they generate lots of advertising revenue.

    Masterchef would be the top of the list because of the Coles deal – reportedly worth a few million dollars each season.

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