Most TV Viewers Find Themselves Gravitating to Cable Over Network Programs

September 10, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Broadcast & Cable | Men | Television | Women | Youth & Gen X

Harris-TV-Viewer-Attitudes-to-Network-and-Cable-TV-Sept201357% of US adult TV viewers agree that the shows on cable TV are better than network TV shows, per results from a Harris Poll. The survey also finds that an equal percentage strongly (28%) or somewhat (29%) agree that they find themselves watching more and more cable and less network TV.

TV viewers are less convinced about the superiority of programs found on premium channels, though: only 4 in 10 agree that the shows on pay cable TV (such as HBO and Showtime) are better than basic cable shows (on channels such as FX and AMC).

Premium channels appear to be under fire from over-the-top (OTT) options such as Netflix, with its original programming possibly seen as an alternative to premium cable. Indeed, recent research from GfK suggests that Netflix users are watching less premium cable as a result of their subscriptions. Moreover, a study from Centris Marketing Sciences found a dip in the number of households with children subscribing to premium channels during Q2.

While Centris also saw a rise in the number of those households subscribing to OTT options, the Harris survey results indicate that only one-third of TV viewers find themselves watching more and more TV via streaming, with more than 6 in 10 disagreeing that that was the case.

Separately, the Harris Poll looks at the types of shows that are most popular with Americans. Asked the 2 types of shows they would say are their favorites, respondents pointed to comedy/sitcoms (39%) and detective/crime shows (32%) first, followed by news (24%), drama (23%) and reality/competition (19%).

There were some notable discrepancies in the results when sorting by age and gender. For example, comedy/sitcoms were 20% more likely to be cited as a top-2 genre by men than women (42% vs. 35%). By contrast, women were more likely to choose detective and crime shows among their top 2 (35% vs. 29%).

Meanwhile, comedy/sitcoms were far more popular among 18-36-year-olds (47%) than respondents aged 68 and up (18%). In fact, news (53%) programs were by far the most commonly-cited genre by the older age group.

Other Findings:

  • “The Big Bang Theory” ranked as the favorite show overall among adult TV viewers, although women named “NCIS” their favorite.
  • “The Big Bang Theory” was the favorite show among 18-36-year-olds and 37-48-year-olds, while Baby Boomers (49-67) and Matures (68+) chose “NCIS” as their favorite.
  • “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” ranked as the new fall show TV viewers were most looking forward to seeing.
  • Among actors returning to TV this fall season, Robin Williams (39%) and Michael J. Fox (30%) are the 2 that viewers are most excited to see.
  • Bill Cosby (26%) and Jennifer Aniston (22%) are the 2 stars viewers would most like to se return to TV.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 14 to 19, 2013 among 2,286 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.


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