Monday, August 24, 2009

Gender in TV Ratings - Serialized/Genre Dramas

2. Serialized dramas are a great way to target a gender.

I'm gonna go really broad here and say there are two types of serialized dramas, "action" and "relationship." Plenty of these shows have cases-of-the-week, but also more serial elements than your average crime effort, so bear with me. Both types of serials are capable of going way off that median 58 female/42 male breakdown.

Smallville 58% male
Terminator:SCC 54% male
24 54% male
Heroes 51% male
Chuck 51% male
Kings 50% male
Lost 48% male
Supernatural 48% male
Dollhouse 47% male
The Unit 46% male
Reaper 46% male
Fringe 46% male
Life on Mars 44% male
Prison Break 44% male
House 44% male
FNL 42% male
Medium 37% male
Harper's 34% male
DH 33% male
ER 33% male
Ghost Whisperer 32% male
Cupid 32% male
B&S 28% male
Ugly Betty 28% male
90210 27% male
One Tree Hill 25% male
Grey's 23% male
Gossip Girl 23% male
PP 23% male

The median show is 42% and I think that's also a good dividing point between "action" and "relationship." I think an interesting point here is that the line between these two types of serials gets blurrier as you get closer to the median. Life on Mars and Reaper had lots of relationship-type stuff (perhaps as ordered by their female-loving nets). Though a relationship drama at heart, the football element probably brings FNL's male number up. Certainly stuff like DH and Harper's Island have heavy mystery/horror elements to them, but anyone who watches them knows there's also plenty of soap.

So when CW head Dawn Ostroff says she wants her W18-34s and she orders stuff like Gossip Girl and 90210, and for all the flak she gets for the bad total viewer numbers on those shows, the point needs to be made - she's getting the audience she wants, and pretty much only that audience. Meanwhile, stuff like Smallville/Reaper is either deprioritized or axed for skewing a long way from her target.

The major point to be made here is this: the median is 42% male. There are very few shows on this list that are right around that number - only four within 3%, and a couple of those in House and Life on Mars are very much borderline procedural. Serials are good at targeting. 5 of the top 10 male-skewers were "action" serials. Six of the top 7 female-skewers were "relationship" serials. Tomorrow, we'll look at procedurals and you'll see a very different story.

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