McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

August 31, 2012

Targeting voters? We've got your TV shows

By Lisa de Moraes
The Washington Post

— Need to reach ultra-conservatives with your political message? Advertise on ESPN's regular-season college football coverage or NBC's "Today With Kathie Lee & Hoda," or become a proud sponsor of PBS's "Antiques Roadshow."

Those three shows have the highest concentration of ultra-cons in all of TV, according to a new report by marketing research company Experian Simmons.

Got a message for Super-Democrats? Say it on Comedy Central's "Daily Show With Jon Stewart," or the network's "Colbert Report," where they tend to gather. Or even NBC's "30 Rock," which attracts the third-highest concentration of Super-Dems even though Alec Baldwin steals every scene as Reagan-worshipping network chief Jack Donaghy.

Just in time for the party conventions comes a study on the TV shows with the highest concentration of each political party's most loyal voters. ESPN college football tops the Ultra-Conservatives' list, followed closely by "Antiques Roadshow" — so Ultra-Cons don't hate PBS after all!

Stewart's faux-news program tops the Super-Dem category, followed closely by companion show "The Colbert Report." No big surprise there.

But also scrutinized for their TV viewing habits were three important swing-voter segments in this election cycle: Mild Republicans, On-the-Fence Liberals and something called Green Traditionalists — who, it appears, are those viewers who swing well to the right on abortion and Social Security but think there might be something to this climate-change thing.

In the country's dozen-ish swing states this election, all those dark-money groups and super PACS will want to buy time in the shows that attract the highest concentration of viewers they're trying to reach, says Matt Tatham, spokesman for Experian Simmons, a unit of global information company Experian.

If it's Mild Republicans you're trying to sway, CBS's "Rules of Engagement" is where they gather in the highest concentration.

On-the-Fence Liberals, however, are as plentiful as wildebeest at a Botswana watering hole on BBC America's "The Graham Norton Show."

And you'll never guess what show has the thickest concentration of Green Traditionalists: "Lizard Lick Towing" — the truTV "actuality" series about Ron and Amy Shirley and their vehicle repossession company in Lizard Lick, N.C.

And if "Lizard Lick" ad time is all sold out, buying time on TLC's "Extreme Couponing" is nearly as good. Strangely, there's not an environmental show in the top 20 list, unless you count PBS's "Nova" at No. 19 — and maybe truTV's "Storage Hunters" at No. 14. Green Traditionalists do not converge in big numbers around scripted TV programming, it would appear.

Super-Democrats, on the other hand, can be found in abundance watching Showtime's drunks-can-be-cute-too drama "Shameless," ABC's family comedy "Modern Family" and HBO's sex-and-swords drama "Game of Thrones," among other scripted programs making that group's top 20 list.

Ultra-Conservatives, meanwhile, like the "Today" show (especially the hour with Kathie Lee and Hoda), and ballroom dancing on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" (especially results night). Also doing well with that group: CBS's "NCIS."

Mild Republicans prefer FX's "Sons of Anarchy," as well as the syndicated "TMZ," even though it's mostly about Hollywood celebrities. This political group is also drawn to fishin' ("Deadliest Catch"), prospectin' ("Gold Rush") and pawnin' ("Pawn Stars").

On-the-Fence Liberals, however, swarm cartoons, including Adult Swim's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," Comedy Central's "Futurama" and Fox's "Bob's Burgers," "The Simpsons" and "American Dad."

Fence-sitting Libs also have a thing for British TV, including Norton's zany talk show and BBC's "Top Gear," which ranks No. 3 on their list.

How do they know? The Simmons National Consumer Study surveyed about 25,000 U.S. adults selected at random — that's how.

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More viewers turned to Fox News Channel than any other network Tuesday to watch coverage of the first night of the Republican National Convention.

About 6.9 million tuned in to FNC from 10 to 11 p.m. Tuesday to hear New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie give his pugnacious keynote speech.

In that hour, FNC — anchored by Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly — attracted about 2 million more viewers than did NBC, which led among broadcasters. NBC averaged 4.8 million viewers in the hour, putting it well ahead of CBS (3.1 million) and ABC (2.9 million).

Bringing up the rear, CNN attracted an average of 1.47 million in that hour to squeak past MSNBC (1.468 million).

Those numbers do not account for everyone watching Christie's speech on television. The numbers for PBS, for instance, were not available at press time.

The commercial broadcast networks, once again, are cherry-picking coverage of the two parties' conventions and carried only the hour that included Christie's keynote address.

Cable news networks, on the other hand, are providing more comprehensive coverage.

In prime time (8-11 p.m.), FNC clocked an average of 5.2 million viewers — in a different league from MSNBC (1.3 million viewers) and CNN (1.2 million).

The story for CNN is bleak, any way you slice it. FNC peaked with 7.2 million viewers about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday. By comparison, CNN at its peak — about 10:15 p.m. — had 1.5 million viewers, also putting CNN behind MSNBC, which peaked about 11 p.m. (1.8 million).

To put all this in perspective, millions more people watched Howard Stern on NBC on Tuesday night than watched Christie on FNC. Stern's "America's Got Talent" was the most-watched single program on one network Tuesday, averaging 9.5 million viewers from 8 to 10 p.m. — and 10.2 million during Stern's final half-hour, leading into NBC's RNC coverage on the East Coast.

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Charlie Sheen will make 90 additional episodes of "Anger Management," FX announced Wednesday, a week after the network telecast the final episodes of its initial 10-episode order.

FX's deal with Lionsgate — which produced the Jack Nicholson flick of the same name and is the production house behind the series — stipulated that if the first batch of 10 episodes hit an agreed-upon ratings level, that would trigger an automatic additional 90-episode order from the basic cable network.

That so-called 10-90 model enables the show's producer, Debmar-Mercury, to make the needed 100 episodes for syndication at a much faster clip than the traditional comedy series model. As FX exec VP Chuck Saftler noted in Wednesday's announcement, the first 10 episodes were produced within a very tight window. Saftler said that Sheen, the other cast members, creator Bruce Helford and the crew now have "the Herculean task of producing 90 episodes over the next two years."

"Anger Management" is the highest-rated new comedy series on cable this calendar year, averaging 4.5 million viewers — 2.5 million of them in the 18-to-49-year-old age bracket, which is the ad sales currency of FX.

"Now we have 100 episodes of a top-tier sitcom with an A-list star the caliber of Charlie Sheen to sell into off-network syndication starting in September 2014," Debmar-Mercury Co-Presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein advertised in Wednesday's announcement.

The show's pilot episode, which was unveiled June 28, was the most-watched prime-time scripted comedy series premiere in cable history. An average of 5.6 million viewers tuned in to see Sheen's return to series television. That came after his spectacular jettisoning from his starring role on the hit CBS comedy "Two and a Half Men," which came after Sheen took time off for rehab and wiled away the time publicly savaging the show's creator, Chuck Lorre.