It's well-known that Democrats prefer MSNBC, while Republicans watch Fox News. But news programs aren't the only networks that draw partisan viewers, according to Horizon Media's BrandRatings report.
Esquire, Game Show Network, BET, Oprah and VH1 all score high among Democratic viewers, while having low numbers of Republican viewers. Networks that perform well with Republican Party supporters while attracting low levels of Democratic Party supporters include Discovery, Fox News, Animal Planet and CNBC.
Horizon's BrandRatings analyzed major networks to determine which had the most supporters of left-wing politics and right-wing politics, as well as which programs, networks, stations, and dayparts have the best opportunity for increased engagement by political strategists.
Many networks maintain universal appeal.
ESPN, BBC America, TBS, TNT and AMC perform well regardless of political affiliation. Most Hispanic networks do not resonate with any particular party, with the exception of El Rey, which performs well among Democrats.
Notably, these viewing preferences aren't fixed. Horizon compared its 2012 report to find many networks experienced big shifts in viewer's political leanings over the past two years. For example, in 2012, CNN under-indexed against Republicans (74), but in 2014 it slightly over-indexed (107). Great American Country, on the other hand, did well with Independents in 2014 (116), but not in 2012 (87).
The inverse is true for HLN, which did well with Independents in 2012 (117), but not in the latest survey (96). MSNBC seems to have made progress with Republicans jumping from a 51 index to 100 in 2014. The Science Network appears to have switched Democratic followers with ReelzChannel. In 2014, the Science Network's index among Democratic viewers dropped to 94 from 112 in 2012, whereas ReelzChannel's index among Democratic viewers grew from 97 in 2012 to 121 in 2014.
“The data allows us to explore the political stance of viewers across networks,” said Eric Blankfein, chief of the Where Group at Horizon Media. “This information enables political strategists planning around the upcoming elections to have a better understanding of the political views of their audience to provide campaigns guidance to advanced audience buying.”
Horizon's report illustrates that there are quite a few general audience networks that have equal appeal to independents and don’t have a strongly Republican or Democrat skew. This illustrates opportunities for candidates to find audiences at scale that could be receptive to a candidate's message.