A higher education for TV


TV viewing among adults 18-24 has increased across the board since Nielsen Media Research began including college students living away from home in its TV ratings measurement in late January, according to the results of a study published by Magna Global.

Primetime TV viewing has increased by 12%, late-night by 9% and daytime by 5%, according to the study, which compared demo ratings in the adults 18-24 demo in a roughly four-month period before Nielsen began measuring those viewers (Sept. 18-Jan. 28) and after (Jan. 29-March 18).

The study, released last week, found that ABC has benefited more than any other network. ABC series getting boosts include "Grey's Anatomy," up 52% in the 18-24 demo to a 9.1 average rating; "Ugly Betty," jumping 56% to a 3.7; and "Men in Trees," increasing 140% to a 3.3.

The study said CBS has not been affected much by the inclusion of college viewers in primetime overall but has seen growth in late-night, where its "Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" saw the biggest percentage increase in 18-24, jumping 34% to a 0.4, followed by "Late Show With David Letterman," jumping 22% to a 0.7.

NBC saw its biggest increase with "The Office," which shot up 41% to a 3.6. Such other NBC shows as "Crossing Jordan" (up 13% to a 1.4) and "My Name Is Earl" (up 10% to a 2.2) saw minor gains.

The report said that the success of "American Idol" makes it hard to determine the actual effect on Fox's primetime programming but noted that such shows as "House" (up 106% to an 8.3) and "Bones" (up 52% to a 2.8) have benefited from both airing adjacent "Idol" as well as the addition of college students in Nielsen's data.

The CW, the youngest-skewing of all broadcast networks, saw its median age drop by two years to 31 and its 18-24 ratings increase by 12% overall. Among the beneficiaries are "America's Next Top Model" (up 18% to a 3.5) and "Friday Night SmackDown" (up 20% to a 1.6).

In daytime, CBS' "The Price Is Right" was the biggest percentage gainer in women 18-24 (up 34% to a 1.0). However, the study said that while CBS' overall daytime lineup has seen a spike in its demo ratings since February, much of that is because of other factors.

Among cable networks, younger-skewing outlets including Adult Swim, Comedy Central, MTV, TBS and VH1 have shown the largest ratings increases among adults 18-24 in primetime.

Other cable networks showing "incremental growth" in the demo include A&E, ABC Family, E! Entertainment Television, History Channel, Lifetime and Spike TV. However, the study noted that those networks' increases are not purely because of the inclusion of college students in every case.

In late-night, Comedy Central and TBS saw the biggest ratings gains among cable networks in the demo.