New Data Tweaks Some Old Beliefs

Feb 12, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Are Men From Mars … and Women From Venus?

That best-selling ’90s book with the provocative title examined some of the (allegedly) inherent differences between men and women, especially in the realm of communications and relationships.

Media strategists and negotiators, TV producers and network executives often focus on such perceived differences between the sexes when creating and scheduling programming. There may still be lingering beliefs, such as that only men will watch action-oriented shows or that only women tune in to dramas with emotional story lines.

That those may be anachronistic stereotypes is subject to endless debate. But we can look at data on viewer response to programming, and notably measures like viewer engagement, to shed more light on this topic.

Since an increased level of engagement with a program correlates highly with recall for advertising in that program, are there important variations among women and men by show?

One of the advantages of measuring engagement on a syndicated basis is that the enormous database allows us to examine viewer response within key target audiences, and use very large, stable samples in drawing conclusions. We decided to include all 2006 data.

We looked at which programs achieved higher engagement among men than among women viewers (we will examine the reverse in a future installment). We found there was only a modest gap among the great majority of programs. Nevertheless, as you will notice from the chart, among programs exhibiting the largest gaps in engagement scores, there is a mix of veteran and newer programming, both dramas and comedies and even an animated series.