New York Times Magazine: What It Means to Be Popular (When Everything Is Popular)
For example: "NCIS," the naval-police procedural, is the highest-rated non-football program on television, routinely drawing 17 million viewers a week. By a straightforward accounting, that makes it the most popular show on TV. Yet by a different definition -- the extent to which, say, a show saturates the cultural conversation -- you could make a case for "Mad Men" as TV's most popular show, even though it draws only 2.5 million viewers. Or "Girls," which draws a paltry 615,000 viewers a week but sometimes feels as if it has generated at least as many essays. By one measure, no one watches "Girls." By another, it's fantastically popular.
Ah yes, the "how often my New York media friends blog about it" measure