Mystery of Salt Lake City

Nov 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Salt Lake City may have one of the most devoutly religious populations for a major U.S. city and 71 percent of Utah voters may have voted for President Bush on Nov. 2, but residents of the Salt Lake City designated market area march to the beat of their own drum when watching television.

Time and time again during TelevisionWeek’s study of viewing preferences in 10 “red” or “blue” markets, Salt Lake City proved a curious anomaly. Audiences failed to embrace some shows that tended to do well in other conservative markets, but they didn’t exactly flock to typical liberal market shows, either.

For example, Salt Lake shunned Bravo’s gay-friendly “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” which barely registered a rating. The town also resisted the liberal philosophizing of NBC’s “The West Wing,” which ranked lower in Salt Lake City than in any other surveyed market.

But Salt Lake viewers likewise dismissed the moralizing of The WB’s “7th Heaven,” which was ranked lower (coming in at No. 68) in Salt Lake City than in any other DMA in the survey.

Likewise, most conservative markets-even those outside the South-enjoyed Atlanta-born Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy “Blue Collar TV” on The WB. But not Salt Lake, which ranked the show even lower than did Boston, Chicago and Seattle. Among the surveyed markets, only New York watched the show less.

“Desperate Housewives” trended slightly toward liberal markets, and here Salt Lake City held up the tail end, ranking the show lowest among the cities surveyed.

But Fox’s steamy soap “The O.C.” and sharply acerbic “Arrested Development”-both of which were stronger in blue markets-also performed well in Salt Lake.

So what plays well in Salt Lake City? Like the rest of the country, procedurals. Of its top six shows, four are procedurals, five if one includes “ER.”

Salt Lake City Tribune television columnist Vince Horiuchi said he was surprised by some of the results.

“For them to not watch `Queer Eye’ is fairly obvious, and `Desperate Housewives’ has gotten a bad rap by conservative watch groups,” he said. “But the `7th Heaven’ thing I’m really curious about.”