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Women Engaged in Reality Programs

May 7, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Sigmund Freud coined the notable (and still controversial) quote, “What do women want?” When it comes to what women want on TV, Nielsen can answer that question.
IAG Research has been exploring another related question: “How do women watch TV?”
Every day of the year, IAG panelists answer a battery of questions about the TV programs they viewed the previous day. On a typical day, more than 2,500 women take the IAG surveys. We measure 21 networks, e.g., NBC, FX, ESPN, Lifetime, CBS.
One set of questions we call engagement questions focuses on key elements of the program. For example, for a one-hour show like “Lost,” we ask all panelists a dozen questions about that specific episode the day after the episode aired. If “Lost” aired on April 4, these engagement questions are displayed only on April 5.
Therefore, rather than ask women (and men) a single, more general and subjective question, such as, “How closely do you pay attention to ‘Lost’?” we gauge responses objectively. For example, for a particular episode of “Lost,” one respondent correctly answered 8 of 12 questions, another 6 of 12, etc.
The main business insight we have gained from conducting more than 140 million discrete program engagement surveys is that attention to the program is strongly linked to ad recall. Stated simply, engagement and ad recall correlate.
Given that so many advertisers target female demos, we wondered which programs showed the largest gap in engagement scores between female and male viewers.
There are many different ways of examining this topic. In this issue, we are selecting the one program from each broadcast network where the gap between women and men is the largest. As shown in the accompanying table, all of the programs are nonscripted. Further, four of these shows are from the reality genre and three of these shows feature women.
Again, these are not the shows with the highest score among women, rather those series where the difference between women and men is the greatest.

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