Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Americans watched more TV than ever in 2010

Illustration for article titled Americans watched more TV than ever in 2010

According to new data released by the Nielsen Company, in 2010 Americans watched more television than ever before—an average of around 34 hours per person per week, which suggests that some of you are watching television right now, while we’re trying to tell you how much television you watch, which is rude. It is also possible that one of the unrevealed side effects of Lunesta is that you stumble out of bed to sleep-view Two And A Half Men, which could finally explain its ratings. That, or we have sloughed off the burdensome, scaly skin of social interaction at last.


Whatever the case, we certainly watch a lot of TV, and CBS cop dramas specifically, with Hawaii Five-0 emerging as the year’s most popular new show among a whole bunch of shows like it. Not surprisingly, CBS dominated ratings for 51 of the year’s 52 weeks, and boasted two other newcomers—Mike And Molly and Blue Bloods—in the overall Top 20. And despite what you may have heard about cable’s creeping in on broadcast television’s turf, even the eternally low-rated NBC retained more than twice the viewers of the largest basic cable channel USA, even if a lot of people apparently really dig Piper Perabo as a C.I.A. agent.

Here are some other statistics outlined in the report:

- Although CBS is first overall, Fox remained No. 1 with the 18-49 demographic thanks to stuff like American Idol and Glee, a show that’s seeped into pop culture so pervasively, you’re probably secretly contributing to the ratings every time you glance at Lea Michele on a magazine cover.

- ABC was called out for failing to produce any new hits after Lost ended, but somehow escaped censure for succeeding to produce an entire season of V.

- NBC was pretty much not mentioned at all, other than being called “the smallest of the big four broadcast networks.”

- By contrast, an entire paragraph was devoted to highlighting Univision’s telenovela I’m Your Owner.

- All cable news networks suffered a decline in ratings, presumably because Michael Jackson did not die this year, oil spills are depressing in a boring way, and the midterm elections were essentially decided through YouTube. Fox News continues to dominate, of course, while CNN had an especially dismal year, slipping 34 percent on average from 2009 and losing the most viewers of any cable channel. (Who would have guessed that Parker Spitzer would fail to break out, besides everyone?)


- The History Channel had its best year yet by finally abandoning that boring history stuff and just focusing on people bickering in junkyards and pawnshops—perhaps the definition of the 2010 cultural zeitgeist, considering it’s the premise of at least six separate, equally successful reality shows.

- Also one of 2010’s biggest winners: Investigation Discovery (I.D.), which had a 64-percent gain in viewers thanks to a non-stop barrage of shows about people being murdered by their own family members and their corpses set adrift in rusty barrels, and which will surely see another huge jump in numbers once it finally gives America what it really wants, which is a show about cheating husbands who kill their wives, remove their teeth, stuff them into a suitcase, and set it on fire, but who are ultimately brought to justice after trying to pawn their wedding rings. Look out, CBS.