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Welcome once again to "The 10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season," our annual feature about, well... the 10 things you need to know about the new season. The goal of this venture is to address not only common questions people have about television but to also demystify (or potentially reaffirm) stigmas out there about certain networks, time periods, genres and so forth. So with that in mind let us put on our journalistic caps and give you the cold hard truth about what's potentially ahead for some of your favorite new and returning shows...
8. If you are reading this, you probably are not the average TV viewer.
You've probably heard or made this argument before: everybody I know watches show X, there's thousands of web sites devoted to X and X is always a bestseller on iTunes and/or Amazon, so Nielsen must not be counting viewership correctly. Or the converse: I don't know anybody that watches show Y, there's very few web sites devoted to Y and Y is never a bestseller on iTunes and/or Amazon, so Nielsen must not be counting viewership correctly.
There's a big problem with these types of assumptions. First and foremost, you are probably not the average TV viewer. The overwhelming majority of TV viewers do not own a DVR, do not watch shows online and do not purchase TV shows on DVD and/or download TV shows. I'm guessing if you are reading this, at least one of those habits applies to you and the aforementioned "everybody you know."
Consider the following numbers*:
97% of all DVD sales are for movies, not TV shows.
85% of TV households do not watch TV shows online.
67% of TV households do not own a DVR.
69% of all DVD rentals are done at stores, not online or via subscription services.
Still feeling like the average TV viewer? Furthermore, a quick glance at the 2000 Census data will tell you that your demographic is actually a lot smaller than you think. Factoring in age, race, relationship and housing occupancy, only 1,867,736 of America's 281,421,906 people fit into my profile. That's not even close to 1%. So knowing that, should I expect the rest of America's viewing habits to fit me and my group of friends? Absolutely not.
All in all, whether we like it or not, you and I are anything but the typical TV viewer. So the next time you hear someone say - everybody I know watches show Z, I don't care what the Nielsens say - that "everybody" is a lot smaller pool than they think.
TOMORROW: Oh those pesky Nielsens.
* All numbers are taken from "The Battle for the American Couch Potato: New Challenges & Opportunities in the Content Market" by the Convergence Consulting Group.