Lindsay Lohan’s courtroom drama is Web sensation

Lindsay Lohan's courtroom drama is Web sensation

Video of Lindsay Lohan’s jail and rehab sentence draws millions of online viewers.

Lindsay Lohan’s star power can’t be relied upon to draw large audiences to TV or movie screens any more, but the computer screen? That’s a different story.

Her last starring role, 2007’s “I Know Who Killed Me” grossed just $7.5 million. And Lohan doesn’t bring any added ratings to a scripted television show — her guest appearance on “Ugly Betty” did nothing to bolster viewership. But Lindsay Lohan’s personal life is an entirely different story: Her appearance in court on Tuesday, during which she was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 90 days in treatment, drew 2.3 million viewers streaming live on TMZ.com.

To put this in perspective of how many viewers 2.3 million viewers actually is, that’s about the same amount of people who tuned in last year to watch the series finale of “Battlestar Galactica.” “Galactica” has been nominated for Emmys and is one of the most popular sci-fi shows of the last ten years; Lindsay Lohan missed a court-ordered alcohol class. Somewhere, Starbuck is rolling over in her grave.

Lindsay Lohan's courtroom drama is Web sensation

It’s pretty cliche to call Lohan’s life a soap opera. Then again, she does get better ratings than some soap operas. Perhaps that’s the secret to channeling Lohan’s potential for television ratings is to have someone follow her around all day and film whatever it is that she does.

Yes, people pretty much already do this, but at least she could get paid for it. To compare: Lindsay Lohan at court (2.3 million on TMZ) pulled in better numbers than the average ratings for soap opera staple “One Life to Live” (2.2 million on ABC) and about equal to that of “As the World Turns” (2.3 million on CBS), “General Hospital” (2.4 million on ABC) and “All My Children” (2.4 million on ABC). Take away the overhead costs for the average soap opera, and Lohan, on her own, is a bona fide daytime hit.

When it comes to direct comparisons to other events streamed on the Internet, Lohan’s online viewership numbers slayed Tiger Woods’ Ustream viewership but could not quite compare to the King of Pop’s. Tiger Woods’s press conference. to apologize for his infidelity only drew 680,000 on Ustream but Michael Jackson’s funeral drew 4.6 million Ustream viewers.

Movie-wise, Lohan is next due to appear in a supporting role for Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete,” due out in September. (A role, by the way, that the filmmakers seem to want to distance themselves from — she was recently trimmed out of the “Machete” trailer.) Lindsay is also set to star as the title character of adult star Linda Lovelace in 2011′s “Lovelace.” Lohan has only appeared in one film that has ever grossed more than $100 million domestically in her career, “Freaky Friday” in 2003, and has not appeared in a film that grossed over $50 million domestically since “Herbie: Fully Loaded” in 2005.