Favorite Prime-time Shows Have Strong Political Leanings

If you thought only cable news channels offered a politically polarizing view of the world, you'd be wrong: Try some mainstream prime-time entertainment.

Recent analysis from Bruce Goerlich, chief research officer of Rentrak, says the current crop of TV shows also offer strong liberal or conservative views. But few shows offer political leanings from both sides of the aisles.

Rentrak looked at some 750 shows with a 0.3 rating or higher and found -- generally speaking -- that liberals prefer comedies, adult cartoons and Hispanic programming. These shows include NBC's "The Office,” ABC's "Modern Family," Fox’s "Family Guy," Univision's "Copa Mundial," and ABC's "The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards."

When it comes to the conservative political mindset, procedural crime dramas and some sports do well. Favorites include CBS' "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "Criminal Minds," college football, and Nascar Sprint Cup.



And yet some shows are in between.  Fox's "The Simpsons,”  while a bit more liberal, also has viewers coming from the other side. CBS' "Vegas" and "Survivor" start off better with conservatives, but don't send liberals running for cover. More equal politically, Goerlich says, are NBC"s "Sunday Night Football" and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."

So with less than two weeks to go until the election -- and lots of political advertising money on the sidelines -- if you see lots of political ads coming your way and you feel good about the message, your favorite media planner has done his job well.

Still, viewers who have DVR services/devices -- about 50% of you -- always have the option of ignorance through fast-forwarding, unaware that some media buying of TV shows can figure out your political leanings.

What this kind of research may not tell us about are undecided voters -- some 6% of the voting population that, according to estimates, are while females, without a college education, making under $25,000 a year. Perhaps cable or broadcast reality shows, I'm guessing?

According to Rentrak, the current batch of TV shows and their viewers’ political tendency have very polarizing results. Perhaps it’s a trend, especially alongside the politically polarizing trend of cable news networks.

So what happens five or 10 years from now?  More evenly rated shows between broadcast and cable -- and therefore more polarization of viewers. Forget about politicians -- how difficult does this get for producers and writers when they have to target ever more micro-niche audiences?


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