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TV Notes: Survey finds NBC shows attract wealthiest viewers

Saturday, January 29, 2000

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

NBC has the wealthiest viewers in all of broadcast television, according to a new median-income survey.

Based on a sample of adults (older than 18) during the fourth quarter of 1999, the median-income for NBC viewers is $51,400 a year, according to a report released by ad-buyer TN Media.

Conversely, UPN has the lowest median income of all the broadcast networks: $35,500 per year.

The difference between the older NBC and the upstart UPN is not at all unexpected. Median income levels fluctuate by the ages of the viewers - in general, income rises until retirement age - so it's only natural that the WB, which targets a younger audience, is going to have a lower median income.

Median income is just one measure of the audience of a network. The figure marks the midpoint of a network's audience base, meaning there are as many viewers with lower salaries as there are with salaries higher than the median.

For example, the six-network median-income for viewers 18 to 34 is $46,900, while the six-network median income for those aged 25 to 54 is $54,000 per year.

Advertisers can use the figures to adjust the placement of commercials to reach more or less affluent groups, depending on the product.

Besides NBC and UPN, here's how the other networks shake out: ABC's median income for viewers 18 or older is $48,200 per year. Fox's median income is $44,800. The WB's median income is $40,400. CBS's median income is $39,200.

Among the shows with the wealthiest viewers are Fox's "Ally McBeal" and NBC's "Will & Grace," "Frasier," "Stark Raving Mad," "Friends," "Profiler," "Jesse" and "The West Wing." According to TN Media's survey, those shows all have median incomes between $55,000 and $59,000 a year.

Shows attracting viewers with median incomes between $50,000 and $54,000 were: NBC's "ER," "Law & Order," "Just Shoot Me" and "3rd Rock From the Sun"; ABC's "Sports Night," "Once and Again," "Drew Carey" and "Monday Night Football"; and UPN's "Star Trek Voyager."

On the other end of the scale, among the shows with median incomes between $40,000 and $44,000, are ABC's "20/20 Friday," "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" and "The Hughleys"; CBS's "Chicago Hope," "Family Law," "Judging Amy" and "Becker"; NBC's "Freaks & Geeks" and "Dateline Friday"; Fox's "Futurama"; and the WB's "Roswell."

The median income levels also swing some for programs when looking at different age groups. For example, CBS's "60 Minutes" has a median income of $44,000 with all adults, but increases to $59,000 when looking at viewers between 25 and 54, CBS's target crowd.

Meanwhile, in the cable world, business news channel CNBC has the largest median income when looking at all viewers 18 and older, according to the survey. The channel's median income soars to $68,100 when the group is narrowed to adults between 18 and 49. CNBC's median income in prime time is $46,100.

Elsewhere, ESPN's median income on a full-day basis with viewers older than 18 is $50,600 per year. MTV's median income is $45,800. Animal Planet's median income is $40,500. Court TV's median income is $39,800. The Cartoon Network's median income is $37,700. And BET's median income is $28,800.

ROCKIN' TV: VH1's newest magazine show, "For the Record," focuses on landmark events in rock history. When it premieres in March, "For the Record" will look at the Parents Music Resource Center and efforts to label music, the fear of rock music, Elvis' pelvis and the investigation of the song "Louie, Louie" and whether it contained hidden "pornographic" lyrics.

VH1's popular "Divas" concert will return in April and it will be paired with a male counterpart, "Men Strike Back."

"BTM2," a sequel series to "Behind the Music," will profile rising stars and pivotal points in their lives. "BTM2" will air weekly beginning Feb. 15 at 9 p.m. Programs in the works will focus on Mary J. Blige, Enrique Iglesias, Tori Amos, Bush, Smash Mouth, Paula Cole and The Dixie Chicks.

ANOTHER GAME SHOW: As if all the network game shows weren't enough, cable's Animal Planet is getting into the mix with "You Lie Like a Dog," premiering Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Someone named JD Roberto hosts the show in which three average Joes and Janes all claim to own the same pet. Celebrity panelists must determine who's "lying like a dog."

"SOPRANOS" CHANGE: To accommodate "Super Bowl XXXIV," a new episode of HBO's "The Sopranos" will premiere at 10 p.m. tomorrow instead of its usual 9 p.m. time slot.

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