Do You Fit The Demographic?

Nearly twenty years ago (yikes!), Bruce Springsteen wrote 57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).

Technology and how we watch television has changed tremendously since 1992.  Who could have imagined we’d watch streaming video on smart phones?  After all, cell phones were the size of a shoe box then!

What hasn’t changed is there’s still a lot of junk on television.  With far greater than 57 channels to choose from, why is it that we have so little quality to choose from?  I had lunch with some old friends not too long ago and we discussed one show in particular that they swore I made up as a joke.

Television channels exist to make money, mostly through advertising.  They use research to illustrate the demographics of their audience and set rates for commercial spots accordingly.  Below are 10 shows currently on air with descriptions mostly taken from their websites.  It makes you wonder what the demographic profile is for their audience.  See if you can spot the fake.

  1. Pawn Stars (History Channel).  Pawn Stars takes you inside the colorful world of the pawn business at a shop on the outskirts of Las Vegas.
  2. Hairy Bikers (History Channel).  A classically trained French chef who loves motorcycles pairs with a motorcycle mechanic who loves food to travel the back roads of America.
  3. My Strange Addiction (TLC)The compelling stories of individuals battling unusual obsessive behaviors.
  4. I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant (TLC).  As impossible as that sounds, apparently there are tons of women who receive the surprise of their life with each new episode.
  5. Sweet Home Alabama (CMT).  Inspired by the movie of the same name, a southern bachelorette (or bachelor) searches for love among 22 contestants (11 from the country, 11 from the city).
  6. Silent Library (MTV).  Modeled after a Japanese game show, six friends vie for a cash prize by imposing unimaginable, beyond hysterical stunts on one another in a library setting, but they must maintain their silence to win.
  7. Jerseylicious (Style).  A “docusoap” that follows the owner and employees of a renovated hair salon in New Jersey, showing off Jersey fashion and style.
  8. Beer Money (SNY).  A fast-paced, non-traditional New York sports quiz show, with cash given away to people (in bars, tailgating, on the street corner) who know their New York sports.
  9. Hillbilly Handfishin’ (Animal Planet).  A reality show about noodling, the sport of fishing for catfish using only bare hands and feet.
  10. American Loggers (Discovery).  Follow brothers as they carry on the family tradition of harvesting timber in the Maine wilderness.
  11. Swamp People (History).  Follow Cajuns who live in the swamps of Louisiana during the 30-day alligator season.

I’ve actually seen about half of the above shows.  Some are actually interesting, although I can’t imagine I’d be considered in the target audience for most of them.  As for the fake?  Trick question – they’re all legit.

What show do you enjoy despite not being in their target demographic?

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4 thoughts on “Do You Fit The Demographic?

  1. I’m ashamed that Cajun culture is depicted like this. My family on my mother’s side qualifies as Cajun and in all my life in Louisiana, southern, middle and northern, I’ve never seen such back woods fools like the ones in this show. It’s low brow trash.

    • I feel your pain David! I’m originally from New Jersey. The rest of the country thinks everyone is either like The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Jerseylicious, Cake Boss or The Sopranos. 🙂 Thank you for commenting on my post this week!

  2. Pawn Stars is just Antiques Roadshow for Joe Sixpack. While I find it hard to relate to any of the programs mentioned above, I also feel a disconnect with most hit broadcast TV shows. Other than NFL games, the only shows still pulling double-digit Nielsons are The OT and X Factor. This speaks volumes about mainstream tastes, and the fact that segmentation has diluted success down to the level where Pawn Stars, with a 3.4 rating and 5.4 million viewers, is a viable commercial hit. 57 Channels have morphed into 557 channels, not including web-only video offerings.
    In my estimation, this doesn’t represent a harbinger of the dumbing-down of America (take a look at the top shows of the 50s,60s, and 70s) as much as a celebration of choice.

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