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New TV Comedies Show Uptick in Viewer Engagement vs. Last Year
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New TV Comedies Show Uptick in Viewer Engagement vs. Last Year

As the mid-way point of the 2010-2011 TV season approaches, Nielsen took a look at which of the new broadcast network series are most captivating to audiences. As Nielsen data has shown in the past, a viewer’s engagement with a program – as measured through a series of questions that determine how well a viewer recalls content within a specific episode – is a strong indicator of how attentive he or she will be to the commercials that run during that program.

This season’s new comedies are showing a significant uptick in viewer engagement with a 5 percent increase over last year. On average, new comedies are also out-performing new dramas in program engagement by 7 percent. In fact, the CBS comedy “Mike & Molly” ranks first as the most engaging new program among all major demos. Overall, there is a 2 percent increase in program engagement for this season’s new shows versus last season.

“It’s interesting that this year’s most engaging new series run the gamut from single- and multi-camera comedies to serialized dramas,” said Dave Kaplan, SVP with Nielsen’s advertising effectiveness business. “Some may think of high-action dramas as the most gripping shows, but the significant gain among comedies is a clear indication that genre alone doesn’t dictate audience attention levels – it’s all about the program.”

Program Engagement is a measure of Receptivity – one of Nielsen’s “4 Rs” of advertising effectiveness (Reach, Receptivity, Resonance, Reaction). A highly engaging media environment will deliver viewers who are more receptive to advertising.

Older audiences (35+) are showing higher engagement in general with the new shows than younger viewers (13-34), which is a difference that is commonly observed. Of particular note, however, is the CW action drama “Nikita,” which shows 19 percent higher engagement for the 35 and up audience on a network that traditionally skews younger in terms of viewership.

In addition, the CBS series “The Defenders” also showed a significant difference between younger and older viewers. Program engagement for the drama increased by 6 percent for viewers 35+ versus younger audiences.

Among men and women, the biggest difference was seen in NBC’s “Law & Order: Los Angeles.” Nielsen data showed that men were 6 percent more engaged than women with the newest addition to the “Law & Order” franchise.

2010 Top 5 Most Engaging New Series on Broadcast TV
Rank Show Network
1 Mike & Molly CBS
2 – tie Raising Hope FOX
2 – tie Running Wilde FOX
2 – tie The Event NBC
5 No Ordinary Family ABC
“For new programs on Broadcast Primetime (ABC, CBS, CW, FOX and NBC)

from 9/6/2010 to 10/27/2010 among P13+

Source: The Nielsen Company