Even as the Internet saps more and more of our time with its bottomless well of pornography and top ten lists, TV is still a refuge for Americans: the Nielsen Company reports that we’re watching more television than ever before — an average of 34 hours per person per week. (To put that in perspective, I blog full-time about TV and the NFL, and I watch anywhere from 12 to 18 hours of TV a week during the NFL season — less during the off-season). Basically, Americans watch TV like it’s their job. This is why you’re fat.
Along with that trend, the big winners of 2010 are CBS, the NFL, and shows about auctions and pawn shops.
The generation-long shift to cable from broadcast continued, but subtly, as the smallest of the big four broadcast networks, NBC, still retained more than twice as many viewers as the largest basic cable channel, USA.
Cable hits like “Jersey Shore” on MTV and “The Walking Dead” on AMC were showered with media attention and affection, but the most popular new show was CBS’s “Hawaii Five-0,” a revival of a 40-year-old drama.
CBS, stable as always, was the No. 1 network among total viewers for 51 out of 52 weeks, and three of its new shows, “Hawaii Five-0,” “Blue Bloods” and “Mike & Molly,” landed in the top 20 for the year, the only new shows to do so…
“Mike and Molly” is a top-20 show? Oy. That one cuts deep, America.
Nielsen noted in an end-of-the-year recap that eight of the 10 highest-rated telecasts of the year were football games. The two others were the Academy Awards and the premiere of “Undercover Boss,” which followed the Super Bowl.
On cable, USA remained the most popular in prime time. Despite some signs of audience erosion, its C.I.A. drama, “Covert Affairs,” was the most popular nonsports program on cable among younger viewers, beating some new dramas on the broadcast networks. USA’s rival TNT had a breakout hit in “Rizzoli & Isles,” an opposites-attract crime-solving show.
USA: the CBS of cable!
Despite a vast oil spill and a midterm election, all of the cable news channels posted declines from 2009.
There may be hope for us yet.
The History Channel and Ion Television each grew by more than 25 percent year-over-year. History was helped by “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers,” trash-into-treasure reality shows that spawned imitators on other channels.
TLC now has “Pawn Queens,” Discovery now has “Auction Kings,” Spike now has “Auction Hunters,” and A&E now has “Storage Wars.” Spike, which had a tough year, went so far as to brag in a December news release that “Auction Hunters” had been beating “Auction Kings”; both shows have been renewed.
(Statement about hope rescinded.)