Ratings alert: What you're watching if you're 11, 50 or 34 years old (the results may surprise you!)


Image Credit: Frank Micelotta/Fox; Fox; Nickelodeo; Kelsey McNea

Steven Tyler and J. Lo don’t necessarily appeal to everybody who watches TV.

American Idol may be the most popular show in all of TV – the Wednesday editions have averaged 25.8 million viewers while the ones on Thursday pull in 24.2 million. But the singing competition doesn’t hog all the glory in the house of Nielsen — especially when it comes to specific demographics like kids, young men, and adults over 50.

So we did some digging! The following results are based on a survey of all shows between Sept. 20 and March 6. (We singled out the male demos versus the female ones since they’re the toughest group for advertisers to reach):

The five most popular shows among adults ages 50 and over: Dancing With the Stars (ABC, 13.8 million), followed by NCIS (CBS, 13.6 million), Dancing With the Stars results show (ABC, 12.2 million), NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS, 11.6 million), and The Mentalist (CBS, 10.3 million).

Men 18-34: Family Guy (Fox, 2 million), American Idol Wednesday (Fox, 1.8 million), The Simpsons (Fox, 1.7 million), The Office (NBC, 1.6 million), and American Idol Thursday (Fox, 1.5 million).

Men 18-49: American Idol Wednesday (4.7 million), American Idol Thursday (4.1 million), Family Guy (3.2 million), The Simpsons (Fox, 2.9 million), and Two and a Half Men (CBS, 2.8 million).

Persons 12-34: American Idol Wednesday (6.7 million), American Idol Thursday (5.7 million), Family Guy (4.3 million), Glee (Fox, 3.9 million), and The Simpsons (3.6 million).

Kids 2-11: SpongeBob SquarePants (Nickelodeon, 3.1 million), iCarly (Nick, 2.7 million), Monster High (Nick, 2.4 million), American Idol Wednesday (2.2 million), and Victorious (Nick, 2 million).

Total viewers: American Idol Wednesday (25.8 million), American Idol Thursday (24.2 million), Dancing With the Stars (21.3 million), NCIS (20.3 million), and Dancing with the Stars results (18.7 million).

Speaking of ages, younger-skewing networks like the CW don’t corner the market on the Clearasil set. That honor goes to MTV. Here are the average viewer ages for some of the most popular networks on your satellite dish or cable box. (Numbers are based on programming that airs Mondays-Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sundays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.):

MTV: 23.2
FX: 38.1
TBS: 37.5
CW: 41
ESPN: 45.7
Fox: 46.1
TNT: 47.6
NBC: 49.4
USA: 49.6
ABC: 51
CBS: 54.9
TVLand: 54.9

Average age of my Twitter followers: 10.5. Follow me anyway @EWLynette

Comments (99 total) Add your comment
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  • Asha

    What about women? Are we a negligible group?

    • Nicky

      as long as you’re in the kitchen, no you are not

      • Alex


      • Casey

        Why is that joke all over the internet lately? It’s in every comment section it seems.

      • Mike

        I like the “makin’ sammiches” joke, but the kitchen one works just as well.

      • Mom

        Nicky, I told you you’re not allowed to use the computer until you turn seven.

      • sheesh

        seriously? that is the best you can do? that is my grandfather’s joke. just pathetic. why don’t you make a joke about the “dirty commies” in the soviet union, while you’re at it. FAIL

      • Sara

        Oh good grief! It was a joke! Calm down and put your bra back on. No burnings today, please.

      • Tina

        I hope someday you choke on your own vomit.

      • Fokom

        OMFG! That’s so original! Do you write your own jokes? Wow…

    • AltDave

      Just bring me a beer and shut up!


      • Erin

        j a c k a s s

      • Tina

        You deserve to die in a fire.


    • Ryan

      Who let this woman out of her cage? ;p

      • talkin’

        j a c k a s s

      • Tina

        eff you sea kay your skull. After your death. Or before. Either way.

      • Gloria Steinem

        Tee hee hee.

    • John Berggren

      Advertisers have determined that men are much more suggestive in terms of impulse buying and brand switching. Women are a bit more rational and tend to stick with brands in spite of ads. So for the networks decision making on renewals, yes you are invisible.

      • Sheila G

        Women are Moms. We have been trained by conditional environments to “tune out” when whatever is being said is annoying or whiney. Therefore, we wouldn’t here a commercial which is all they care about. Same thing when my husband can’t find something that is right in front of him. Off Switch!

      • Sheila G

        Oops – never try and goof with a post while working! HEAR

      • Rudy

        You actually used “women” and “rational” in the same sentence?

    • Tori

      Women are a different catagory all together. I live with my parents, and my mom and I usually just watch whatever my dad is watching. Not that he’ll change the channel if I ask him to, anyway ^_^

      • Kiki

        However, statistically, Tori’s situation is unusual. The general rule is that female let males choose the movie when going out, but males let females choose the TV show at home. (Of course there are many exceptions to the rule, but there’s enough truth in it to result in more female-interest TV shows than movies.)

  • Sarah

    I’m surprised so many men watch American Idol. And I’m with Asha, what about what women are watching?

    • MultiPass

      That’s because their wives and girlfriends make them watch it

      • Terraforma

        Funny, I watch sometimes it because my husband makes me watch it…

  • jj

    Doesn’t surprise me a bit.

  • Catherine

    Those numbers are interesting since all the American Idol fans that I know are women and none of my male friends would ever admit to watching the show… thank goodness for Nealson set-top boxes, I guess!

  • waya

    I’m a 30something female and I never miss House, Amazing Race, Top Chef, and my big fav, Fringe. I can’t stand J-Lo so Idol is history.

    • Mellissa

      Your list is near the same as mine. I never miss House, Amazing Race, or my fave, Fringe, either.

    • Kaye

      I’m with you, though I’m in my 40’s…never miss Amazing Race, Top Chef or Glee!

    • Alainna

      i though this was going to be a stupid dating add when i fisrt read it

      • LOL

        That’s funny cos all these comments start like one of those creepy bot ads usually found on here.

    • Ruby

      I’m 22 and basically the only thing I watch is Fringe (best show on TV right now). I guess I have high standards…

      • PretentiousButCorrect

        Nope, Breaking Bad is the best show currently on television. Fringe is good though.

  • 47/F

    I don’t watch any of that.

    • Mel

      Neither do I.

  • SAF

    Well they did not ask this 50 year old guy what he watches…none of those shows are ever watched….

  • babyjin

    I’m sure many of the men who watch American Idol are watching it with women.

  • jason

    oh my God. I am 39 and i don’t watch any of those shows. I like NCIS which i watch reruns of on USA but other than that i don’t watch any of those shows.

    • MultiPass

      You’re too old for anyone to care now. Just hang it up and start doing sudoku

      • claudenorth

        Sudoku is better than most TV shows…

      • Terraforma

        Rofl at 35 I’m actually watching NCIS and not any of the other shows. I must be asocial too. /grin

  • Nikki

    So it looks like the 35-49 year old men are the ones responsible for keeping that 2 1/2 Men trash on tv… Figures, lol

  • Finch

    This all bullsh*t folks. I don’t know a single person in ANY age group that watches “Two and a Half Men” or “NCIS”. And no man of any age with any self-respect would be caught dead watching “American Idol”.

    • Terraforma

      Maybe you should ask yourself if you’re just asocial?

    • Men love AI too

      Finch, if you had any self-respect you wouldn’t be here bullying people because they watch a TV show that you don’t.

  • Todd

    Well im 46 and i love simpsons, family guy and two and a half men. Also the office. I dvr AI but seldom actually watch it… Too young girly for me, tho i do watch glee, which is gay but not girly

    • James

      You make me sad. Do you have no memory of what The Simpsons used to be? The longer you watch it the longer the memory of the old episodes gets tarnished.

      • jen

        that’s a load of crap.

  • cfkane

    Are you sure that the figure of 23.2 for MTV isn’t an average viewer IQ rather than age?

    • Kev

      Nice one cfkane!

    • Ruby

      LMAO so true

      • Hv

        What does the M in MTV stand for these days anyway?

  • maxx02

    don’t watch any of that. Well I watch Family Guy once and while and NCIS once and while. I guess that makes me and adult over 50, male age 18 – 49.
    Actually I’m none of that. Imagine Hollyweird doesn’t get it. I’m gobsmacked.

  • sally0

    I’m a female in my 50’s and I watch American Idol, Criminal Mind, House every week. Along with TLC, Food Network, HGTV and ID Discovery.

    • Old but not dead

      I’m a 50 year old male and I don’t watch any of the crap listed for my age group.

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