Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gender in TV Ratings

Buying advertising on television is a business, and business is about supply and demand. That's a big part of why adults 18-49 is what ad buyers want - because you can find out-of-demo people in droves just about anywhere and in any daypart. But even within that subset, there are other important distinctions, and I'm looking at a biggie this week - gender. What kinds of TV shows are the two sexes watching? Is one of them harder to reach on the whole, and thus in greater demand? Thanks to a great thread on PIFeedback, I've gotten my hands on some gender breakdowns. It's not an issue that gets very much play in TV ratings discussion, at least not in terms of hard numbers, but I think it's important to decisions, so I'm going to try to bring some tangible info into the picture.

I wrote the vast majority of this last night, but I decided that it was so massive that I'm going to do a separate post for each point. Here's the first and probably most important one:

1. Within adults 18-49, males are the harder gender to reach on primetime network TV, and it's not even close.

I looked at 90 shows total, including all the big-5 originals during the first week of May Sweeps '09 and a selection of shows from the previous few weeks that didn't air that week either due to preemption, unavailable stats, or wrapping up early. Out of those 90 shows, here are some stats. (And keep in mind all numbers from here on out are within the A18-49 demo, not within the whole viewership.)
  • Ranking all these shows by male/female percentages, the median percentage is 58% female / 42% male.
  • Of the 90 shows, only ten have more M18-49 than W18-49. Another two are exactly even.
  • The shows at the very top of the list among male-skewing shows are 61% male / 39% female. On the flip side, 37 of 90 shows are watched by at least 61% females. 12 of 90 shows are seen by at least 70% females!
The next four posts will be about different types of shows - serialized drama, procedurals, comedy, and reality. Then I'll do a final post with a wrap-up and a complete list of all the shows I looked at. For a preview, here are lists of the top 10 M18-49 and W18-49 performers during the first week of May sweeps 2009. This should at least begin to illustrate that different shows skew different ways gender-wise, because these lists have only four shows in common! Much more to come.

Show M18-49
1 Idol (Wed.) 6.05
2 Idol (Tues.) 5.9
3 2.5 Men 4.7
4 Family Guy 4.15
5 House 4
6 Lost 3.85
7 Office 3.7
8 24 3.65
9 Fringe 3.6
10 Rules 3.55

Show W18-49
1 Idol (Tues.) 10.15
2 Idol (Wed.) 9.35
3 Grey's 7.6
4 D.Housewives 6.3
5 DWTS (Mon.) 6.2
6 House 5.15
7 SVU 5.15
8 2.5 Men 5.1
9 P.Practice 5.1
10 Biggest Loser 4.825

The fine print on my somewhat flawed process: all numbers are derived from the "Ratings Info for PIFC" thread on PIFeedback, posted by exmalibu. For shows that ran over the hour, I did not take into account the extra or missing minute(s) - I simply averaged every 13 or 14 or 15 minute period that was available without weighting them. Generally, they should still be very close, but just trying to protect myself in case I run into an even bigger numbers geek than myself. Most breakdowns come from the first week of May sweeps 2009, which is April 23-29, and exceptions will be noted in the complete list of shows in the last post. When coming up with percentages, I'm also going on the assumption that there are the same number of males and females aged 18-49 in this country. Again, as with the 15-minute breakdowns, this won't be exactly right (some census info I looked at indicated it was about 51 female / 49 male) but close enough to not make it worth the hassle of coming up with a better calculation.

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