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TV habits converge for blacks, whites

Feb 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

African American audiences and white audiences are watching more of the same prime-time shows than any time in recent memory.
Such is the conclusion of TN Media’s annual study: “TV Viewing Among African Americans and Hispanics.”
In its study of viewing by various ethnic groups in the fourth quarter, eight prime-time shows ranked in the top 20 by both black and white audiences: “ER,” “Judging Amy,” “Monday Night Football,” “The Practice,” “60 Minutes,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Tuesday), and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Wednesday)
“There’s a lot of common viewing ground today,” said Steve Sternberg, TN Media’s senior vice president, director of broadcast research. “Just a few years ago, in 1996, the only common program in the top 20 shows viewed by African Americans and by whites was `Monday Night Football.”’
One reason for the increase in commonly viewed shows is the increase in ensemble casts that include minorities, said Stacey Lynn Koerner, TN’s vice president, broadcast research, and the manager who oversaw the study. “We’re now up to 31 shows that have ethnically diverse ensembles,” she noted, “up from 27 last year, 21 the year before that, and only 13 in 1995. It speaks to network TV reflecting society better.”
ABC, thanks to “Millionaire,” led the six networks in ratings in African American homes. “ABC hasn’t been No. 1 among the networks in African American homes [for] over a decade,” Ms. Koerner noted.
On the syndication front, the World Wrestling Federation is the most-watched show in black homes, followed by “Judge Judy,” “Divorce Court,” “Judge Joe Brown” and “Jerry Springer.”
Popular syndicated product in African American homes (excluding sports and films) ranked by studio gives Studios USA the top spot, followed by Twentieth Television, King World Productions, Paramount Domestic Television and Teletrib/Lorimar, according to the TN study.
The difference in TV viewing between black households and Hispanic households remains dramatic. African American homes average 75.8 hours of TV a week; Hispanic homes 58.6.
Furthermore, with Spanish being the dominant language in almost half of all Hispanic homes, 46 percent of prime-time viewing in Hispanic homes is of Spanish-language TV stations. “Only three of the English-language networks (four shows spread among Fox, ABC and UPN) were represented in the Hispanic top 20 list in fourth quarter 2000,” the TN Media report said.
Of the top 20 shows on the six major English-language networks in Hispanic homes, Fox has 10. In the top spot: “The Simpsons.”
In terms of percentage of Hispanics in the viewing audience, the No. 1 network show was “WWF Smackdown!,” followed by “Grosse Pointe,” “Nikki” and “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” By that same measurement of the black audience, the leader was “The Parkers,” followed by “Girlfriends,” “Moesha,” and “The Hughleys.”