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Do Dem & GOP Viewers Respond Differently To TV Shows

2 minute read | October 2008

Do politics play a role in TV viewing? 

Yes and no, according to Nielsen IAG, which recently released data showing which cable programs are most “engaging” among self-identified Democrats and Republicans.

“Engagement” refers to the amount of attention paid to a television program by the average viewer.  Nielsen measures TV engagement by questioning a representative panel of viewers about their recall of specific telecasts’ content.

Nielsen’s analysis found that the cable programs that received the highest overall engagement scores — meaning viewers were most engaged in the shows’ content — also received the most bipartisan support, drawing high engagement scores from viewers of both parties, as well as from viewers who identify as political “Independents.”  

As might be expected, however, several programs had clear partisan bents.  On Comedy Central, for example, Democratic viewers paid the most attention to “The Colbert Report,” while “South Park” was the network’s most engaging show among Republicans.

Cable Series:

Highest Bipartisan Engagement

NetworkCable Series:

Highest Republican Engagement

NetworkCable Series:

Highest Democrat Engagement

The CleanerA&ESouth ParkCOMEDYThe Colbert ReportCOMEDY
Real Housewives of Orange CountyBRAVOCash CabDSCDeadliest CatchDSC
The Next Food Network StarFOODDamagesFXIts Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaFX
Army WivesLIFEDoctor WhoSCIFITin ManSCIFI
The HillsMTVThe Bill Engval ShowTBSMy BoysTBS
What Not to WearTLCRock of Love With Bret MichaelsVH1I Love New YorkVH1
Saving GraceTNT    
In Plain SightUSA    
Source: The Nielsen Company (2008).

Read coverage of Nielsen’s findings on NPR.org and in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and Mediaweek.

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