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'Mad Men' Viewers Make Critical Choice

8/01/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

After the critical adulation, the 16 Emmy nominations, the magazine covers and the Brandweek-reported $25 million promotional spend by AMC, viewers had the chance to vote on returning dramatic series Mad Men with their remotes last Sunday (July 27) at 10 p.m.

The result: a victory, but perhaps a qualified one.

As AMC pointed out in a press release, the initial Nielsen Media Research count showed 1.9 million viewers tuned in to see the first episode of the Matt Weiner-created drama's second season. AMC touted that as double the first season's average rating — but Mad Men tailed off in the first year after starting out with 1.6 million viewers for the premiere. That meant the season-two kickoff was about 19% ahead of the first season's premiere.

When the “live-plus-same-day” numbers came out that included an extra day's recorded viewings, the number rose above 2 million. That brings the impact of all the paid and free promotion — and critical buzz — up to a 25% lift for the premiere episode of a series that declined in average viewing in the first season.

The viewing number is likely to rise, though, when the “live-plus-seven-day” numbers are released, if the first season's viewing of the glossy, 1960s era series is a guide. Turner Research's analysis of summer 2007 shows indicated about one third of Mad Men viewers in the coveted ages-18-to-49 demographic recorded it.

AMC said the Mad Men season-two debut nearly doubled its 18-to-49 viewers (955,000 versus 510,000) in the overnight count when compared to the season-one premiere. It also enjoyed a nice comparative rise in 25-to-54s: 996,000 vs. 731,000.

Also, some viewers are worth more than others, and Mediabuyerplanner reported a third of Mad Men's targeted 25-to-54s earn $100,000 or more to spend, able to role-play as Sterling Cooperites with Jack Daniels and Gucci loafers.

September