Divided Country: Navigating A Fractured Consumer Terrain

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Advertisers and programmers face an era of hyper-polarization in politics and society, combined with an explosion of niche television. What is a media executive who wants to reach a mass audience supposed to do?  The days when the Ed Sullivan show with Elvis Presley could command an 82.6% share of the American audience may be gone, but we found a number of shows that are appealing to both sides of major audience divides. We also found one show in particular that scores with every audience we examined.

 

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Using E-Score Programs – Broadcast, we looked at the differences and commonalities between the favorite shows of three distinct demographic divides: urban vs. rural, liberal vs. conservative, and Millennials vs. Generation X. Among the favorite shows of these groups, we discovered three common program elements. Programs preferred by each group garner high Excellent ratings for the proprietary program elements Program Characters, Program Relationships, and Idea for Program.

 

Reaching City Slickers and Country Folks

Although from two vastly different living situations, urban and rural viewers have similar standards when choosing their favorite shows. In order to reach rural and urban audiences, show creators should focus on strong program characters, relationships, and unique ideas for the show.

 

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  • On average, people living in rural America enjoy their programs more than urban residents do. Although rural residents give slightly higher average scores for One of My Favorites, scores for both groups are nearly identical for Program Characters, Program Relationships, and Idea for Program.
  • This Is Us is America’s new favorite show, taking the top spot on both the urban and rural lists. It also tops all shows on both lists for the program elements Program Characters, Program Relationships, and Idea for Program, based on Excellent
  • In order to appeal to rural consumers it is important to identify programs that are able to capture and keep their attention. This is supported by 95% of rural America’s top 20 favorite shows scoring above average for the program element Keeps My Attention.

 

 Finding Political Harmony

Although the recent political environment has the parties at extreme odds, liberals and conservatives show some bipartisanship on their favorite shows. Attaching brands and ads to select shows will help advertisers reach both sides of the line.

 

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  • NCIS joins This Is Us as the only shows to crack the top five for both lists. Both draw on strong character relationships to captivate viewers. They each make the top five for Program Relationships rated Excellent, with This Is Us coming in at the top.
  • Of the programs in common, all come in above the average scores for all three major program elements- Program Characters, Program Relationships, and Idea for Program, based on Excellent
  • To appeal to liberals and conservatives alike, avoid family shows. Of the shows in common, only the Goldbergs scores above 30% for the program element Shows for the Whole Family [Liberal (49%), Conservative (57%)].

 

 Age of Division?

Capturing the attention of Millennials and Generation X is important for today’s brands and advertisers. Interestingly, E-Score Programs data shows that these two groups can be reached with very similar shows.

 

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  • The divide between the generations is not that big as Millennials and Generation X share over half of the top twenty programs in common.
  • Supernatural is the top show in common among the generations. It is the only show to appear in both generations’ top five.
  • Serialized television dominates the shows both generations enjoy with the top five shows in common fitting the genre.

 

 Ticking All the Boxes

For advertisers looking to reach the widest possible audience, a few shows stand out:

  • This Is Us is the only show in the top 10 for all six groups.
  • Supernatural hits the top ten for five of the six, but is outside the top 25 for conservatives.
  • NCIS is the only show in the top 15 for all six groups (other than This Is Us).
  • Criminal Minds, Gotham and Grey’s Anatomy are in the top 20 for all six groups.
  • Big Bang Theory hits top 20 for five groups, missing only Millennials.
  • Blue Bloods also is top 20 for five of six, missing only with Liberals.

 

 Takeaway

Finding commonality within opposing demographics is necessary for advertisers and programmers to appeal to the broadest range of consumers. E-Score Programs tools help marketers, agencies, and studios understand how best to identify and reach their desired audiences.

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 Methodology

Data Source: E-Score Programs – Broadcast for all data. All programs fielded after 1/1/16.

Rural is represented by survey takers who identify with the following: “Residential is a rural area.” Urban is represented by survey takers who identify with the following: “Residential is a large city”, “Residential is a small city”, “Residential is a suburb of a large city”, Residential is a suburb of a small city.”

Liberal is represented by survey takers who identify with the following: “Political party affiliation is Democrat.” Conservative is represented by survey takers who identify with the following: “Political party affiliation is Republican.”

Millennial is represented by survey takers who identify with the following: “Age is greater than or equal to 13” and “Age is less or equal to 34.” Generation X is represented by survey takers who identify with the following: “Age is greater than or equal to 35” and “Age is less than or equal to 50.”

Image source: The Greene Space

 

Resources

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