In the past few years, I’ve become interested in the rise of female power, particularly in the realm of money and consumption. Here’s an example from your local drugstore’s magazine rack.
I don’t do this with any sense of resentment. Men have wielded the purse strings for all of human history, after all. It’s high time that pendulum swung the other way.
Last night, it occurred to me television was following other media forms in its reorientation to female audiences. Consider the most popular shows in the US for last week:
- Dancing with the Stars
- American Idol – Wednesday
- American Idol – Tuesday
- The Mentalist
- NCIS: Los Angeles
- The Good Wife
- Criminal Minds
I can’t speak to all of the shows in the top ten, but the top three definitely have a predominantly female audience. None have an obviously mostly-male audience. This should be no surprise. Women control a huge portion (85%, according to this article) of a household’s income. And–this was news to me–they watch more television. The most recent data I could easily find was from 2004, but in that year, Statistics Canada reported that adult women watched nearly five more hours (25.6 to 20.9 hours) of television a week than men.
Musing on this topic on Twitter earlier today, I asked about TV shows (besides sports and shows about cars) that predominantly appeal to men. Here are some of the suggestions I received that rang true:
- Handyman Superstar Challenge
- Most Extreme Elimination Challenge
- Deadliest Catch
- The Simpsons
- Family Guy
There were also several suggestions for anything on Spike TV. Is that the only male-oriented channel, besides the likes of TSN and SportsNet? What’s your experience of watching television these days?
Hrm. My wife and I watch nothing on the top ten list, and we both enjoy only Simpsons and Family Guy from the “men” list.
Would like to add to the suggestion list the “sci-fi” shows on cable networks like Fringe, Heroes, Flashforward, two of which just got canceled.
And I wondered if Chuck–an IT tech guy’s fantasy–attracted more male viewers than female.
I’m not sure about Dexter — many women seem to like it, from my anecdotal experience.
Many Discovery Channel shows have a male-audience focus, including the ones you mentioned, and others such as Destroyed In Seconds, Smash Lab, Frontiers of Construction, Man vs. Wild, and so on. I suspect Discovery’s audience skews pretty heavily male.
It’s also interesting that Food Network has a range of programming, some of which is, uh, unisex, and some of which seems designed to appeal to a male or female audience more directly. The “challenge” shows like Iron Chef American, Chopped, Bobby Flay Throwdown, Dinner: Impossible, Food Network Challenge, Top Chef, and such emphasize the contest, like a sports show. I suspect others like The Best Thing I Ever Ate and Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives are also trying to reach men.
Let’s not forget “Canada’s Worst Driver” or it’s Handyman counterpart, those shows literally make me ROTFLMAO!
I’m a 26-year old single male, so I only watch what I want on television. Reality TV, for the most part, is not on my radar.
I don’t watch anything in the top 10, either.
Shows I do watch? Dexter is good; there’s also NBC’s Thursday night lineup of 30 Rock, The Office, Community and Parks and Recreation that I keep up with; I never miss The Daily Show; I also never miss Pardon the Interruption (sports news show on TSN) and of course, live sports pretty much takes up the bulk of my TV time. There are probably a few others I’m forgetting, but thanks to owning a PVR and torrents I can usually catch up on anything I miss.
The prospect of watching any of the ten list above makes me want to throw the TV out the window. It would require a healthy form of compensation to get me to tune in to any of them. The second, ‘male’ list is far more appealing. My fiance and I both adore Mythbusters, Fringe, Dexter, Mad Men, Holmes on Homes. Wonder if my geeky nature may have something to do with it.
Hate to say it, but you could argue that the business channels on TV are male-oriented.
And I don’t know the exact demos of people who watch news channels, but I know they skew older, and in many cases, more male — though when big news events occur, that tips towards equality.
It would be sad if women demonstrated equality by staying in and watching TV.
There’s very strong evidence that watching sitcoms induces a state of mild depression, decent evidence that regular TV viewers are more afraid of strangers, and a correlation between TV viewing and brain problems.
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