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What Are You Watching? Top 10 Primetime Shows Among Black Viewers

by Tambay A. Obenson
November 4, 2013 5:05 PM
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The chart below comes courtesy of Nielsen, which, as it states, shows ratings as of a week ago, October 27, 2013

What I found most intriguing are the numbers for ABC's Scandal. While it's the number 1 primetime series watched by black audiences in this country (which really shouldn't be a surprise), the figure you see on the table below, 3.46 million viewers, represents the number of black people the show drew the week that the chart reflects. What I thought was worth pointing out is that, this season, Scandal has been drawing over 9 million viewers per episode, enjoying its best ratings ever. This means that, less than half of Scandal's Thursday-nights-at-10pm audience comprises of black viewers; which in turn suggests that, it's clearly a cross-over hit, as over 61% of the show's viewership are non-black people - between 5 and 6 million.

Maybe this shouldn't be a surprise, but I thought it was worth highlighting on this blog, given how much the series is discussed, and appreciated by its many fans. And I love looking at hard numbers instead of speculating.

It's also worth noting that, as the chart shows, more than double the number of black people who watch Shonda Rhimes' other drama series on ABC (Grey's Anatomy) watch Scandal. And a number of programs on this list, can also be found on the overall top 10 list of primetime TV shows (non-race-specific), like Persons Of InterestDancing With The Stars and NCIS: Los Angeles.

And finally, while black people apparently love NCIS: Los Angeles (I suppose because LL Cool J is one its stars?), the original series - NCIS - which isn't watched as much by black audiences, was the most-watched TV series overall (regardless of race) during the week that this table reflects. NCIS: Los Angeles was the #5 overall most-watched series that week, although black people make up about 10% of that show's audience - according to Nielsen; Certainly nowhere near the almost 40% who make up Scandal's total audience every week.

I haven't been keeping up with Nielsen's weekly breakdowns like this one, but I will from here on. I find it all very interesting, informative and telling.

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  • Darian | November 17, 2013 1:22 PMReply

    the only show i watch on this list Scandal.. Where is Arrow and Sleepy Hollow

  • Sergio | November 6, 2013 1:41 PMReply

    This list looks like what white guy thinks black people would watch

  • Akimbo | November 9, 2013 10:43 AM

    It actually looks almost exactly like a list of what white people watch. Except Scandal might be moved further down and original NCIS would find it's way in there.

    The World Series at #5? Who would stereotype black people as such avid baseball fans?

  • jeni | November 6, 2013 1:21 PMReply

    I don't watch any of these programs...

  • jeni | November 6, 2013 2:02 PM

    Forgot about Nikita, because it hasn't returned to the CW yet.

  • jeni | November 6, 2013 1:30 PM

    And I should've added that since Breaking Bad has left us, I have no must-see TV. Everything I check into consists of guilty pleasures that I don't care that much about, some of which were former favorites that have fallen off in terms of writing. New Girl, Nashville, Parks and Rec, Big Bang Theory, Covert Affairs, Suits, The Good Wife, and if I'm honest, America's Next Top Model, because Tyra added guys and turned it into a model version of The Real World this season. Don't judge.

  • Elle | November 6, 2013 11:23 AMReply

    I watch Scandal, Brooklyn 99, Mindy Project, Sleepy Hollow.

    Does anybody else watch Masters of Sex? I just got hooked.

  • dee | November 5, 2013 4:55 PMReply

    American Horror Story
    Sleepy hollow
    Mindy project
    Brooklyn 99 .... testing it out
    My list grows or decreases as the winter and spring seasons change

  • dee | November 5, 2013 4:58 PM

    Sorry meant Blacklist.....making up a new show with Hitlist. Lol

  • LuciousLips | November 5, 2013 3:09 PMReply

    With the invention of on-demand and online streaming, who carves out a time to watch primetime TV? I'm going to answer my top 3 or 4 that I watch that usually come on during prime time..... lol

    Life After
    Celebrity Crime
    Sleepy Hollow

    I watch all of these online. I rarely catch the first run. Busy living.

  • Mark Dunston | November 5, 2013 6:41 AMReply

    Steven Biko said "The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."

  • Alias | November 5, 2013 12:28 AMReply

    OH, and I forgot

    The Good Wife
    Devious Maids

  • Alias | November 5, 2013 12:25 AMReply

    I'll play along! ... (not in any particular order)

    Modern Family
    Mad Men
    Sleepy Hollow
    Shark Tank (best competition show on television! and it's very educational too!)
    The occasional NFL game if my team is playing

    and... soon-to-be added: Almost Human

  • Josh | November 5, 2013 12:08 AMReply

    NFL/College Football, Person of Interest, Blacklist, Boardwalk Empire, Homeland, Walking Dead, Sleepy Hollow, Agents of Shield, Arrow.

  • JulieB | November 4, 2013 10:49 PMReply

    Hmmmmm. My top shows are #1 Sleepy Hollow, #2 The Walking Dead, #3 Scandal, and 4# American Horror Story. Those are all amazing shows and have black leads/prominent characters. Plus Sleepy Hollow is amazing because Tom Mison is sexy and so is Nicole Beharie.

  • D.C. Kirkwood | November 5, 2013 4:06 PM

    Homeland is my number one show because Claire Danes is awesome. My number two, is Sleepy Hollow. Yes!!! Tom Mison is soo hot and a good actor. Last's night's episode of Sleepy Hollow was on point. Plus they had Ms. Abby Mills, in those skin tight jeans while holding that gun. I was like you better werk my sista!!!!! She is so talented and the perfect lead for Sleepy Hollow.

  • slb | November 4, 2013 8:54 PMReply

    I must not be black because I don't watch any of these shows. I watch Criminal Minds syndicated weekend episodes, but not first run episodes on CBS. My current rotation consists of:

    Sleepy Hollow
    Shark Tank
    The Blacklist
    Hostages (I'm hate watching this until completion.)
    The Walking Dead

    Coming Soon:
    Almost Human

    In the Spring I will add:
    House of Cards Season 2
    GoT Season 4
    Sherlock Season 3
    Orphan Black Season 2

  • Phred G | November 4, 2013 11:30 PM

    Just to avoid cornfusion, I should've said "YOUR Top 10" SLB. Not the charted list au top-of-page. I likes Rizolli & Isles too!

  • Phred G | November 4, 2013 11:27 PM

    I agree with most of the top 10 and Soon-To-Be-Seen(s). Can't wait for Almost Human. When I was seventeen (cue song) we got a Nielsen 'book' and had to record all we viewed. Haven't heard from 'em since. SCANDAL is the only show on that list I watch. And, for the record, AH LUVS ME SOME NCIS! Even with the pseudo-Zivas.

  • Troy | November 4, 2013 10:49 PM

    It's football season and that's just the top ten.

  • AngieBNews | November 4, 2013 8:25 PMReply

    I'm positive American Horror Story has gotten a significant boost in black viewers mainly due to the inclusion of Angela Bassett in a lead role this season. Not to mention Gabourey Sidibe as well!

  • ALM | November 4, 2013 7:26 PMReply

    Hasn't there been discussion in the past about how few African American households actually have Nielsen boxes? That may explain the surprise in some of the numbers.

  • Akimbo | November 9, 2013 10:47 AM

    Few people under the age of 35 (40? 45?) can find anyone who actually admits to tuning in, but CBS has been, against all logic, the most watched network for years. It only makes sense that black people are also (secretly) watching their stuff (and other generically popular shows) as well.

  • Rocket | November 4, 2013 6:04 PMReply

    None of them actually. That is not to knock any of those shows. I just don't watch them. I'm either watching something from Netflix (streaming and DVDs) or NBA league pass now that basketball season is back.

  • scripttease | November 4, 2013 5:40 PMReply

    Shark Tank & Face Off, my main two.

  • Troy | November 4, 2013 10:47 PM

    Is that to keep from being influence by other writers. Or you are only interested in venture capital and makeup?

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