Not a Bazinga! The Big Bang Theory is America’s Favorite Current Television Show

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – September 5, 2013 – It’s that time of year. Schools are starting, there is crispness in the air as summer fades away and there are new television shows and returning favorites about to air. What show are people looking forward to seeing? What actors are getting people’s attention? What types of shows do people like to watch? Well, two in four Americans (39%) count comedies or sitcoms among their two favorite types of shows, while one-third (32%) say detective or crime shows are among their favorites. About one-quarter each say news (24%) and drama (23%) are favorite types of shows, while for 19% it is a reality or competition show and 17% turn to sci-fi or fantasy.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,286 adults surveyed online between August 14 and 19, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

    Favorite current television show

    Sheldon Cooper or Leroy Jethro Gibbs? Penny and Leonard or Tiva? Imagine the pitch meeting as the creators of The Big Bang Theory pitched their idea of a sitcom about 4 very smart physicists and a sexy waitress/actress. Who would have thought that as the show approached its seventh season it would be America’s favorite current television show, followed by another long-time television staple that is about to lose one of its leads NCIS. And when it comes to favorites among different groups, whether it is by gender, age, region or education, the favorite is consistently either NCIS (among Women, Baby Boomers and Matures, Southerners and Westerners, and those with a high school degree or less and those with a post graduate degree) or The Big Bang Theory (Men, Echo Boomers and Gen Xers, Easterners and Midwesterners, and those with some college or a college degree).

    Looking at the rest of America’s favorite shows, the rest of the top five are all long-running crime/detective shows. At number three is Criminal Minds, followed by CSI and then Law and Order SVU. Next are two cable television shows: Breaking Bad which is ending its run this season, and the reality show Duck Dynasty. Two comedies and a crime show round out the top ten – Family Guy Modern Family and Person of Interest.

    The upcoming season

    Which shows have the potential to be new favorites as the season gets underway? When presented with a list of 13 shows that will debut in the next few weeks, half of Americans who watch television (48%) say they are not at all sure which one they are most looking forward to watching, showing that there is still a sense of the unknown. But a few shows rise to the top, as over one in ten say Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (16%) The Michael J. Fox Show (15%) and Sleepy Hollow (12%) are ones they are most looking forward to watching. Just under one in ten say they are most looking forward to The Crazy Ones (9%) and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (7%).

    One thing the new television season is bringing is a lot of actors’ returns to the small screen. Among a list of 12 returning actors, when asked which are among those they’re most excited about seeing again, two are clear favorites as four in ten say Robin Williams (39%), who is coming back in The Crazy Ones and three in ten say Michael J. Fox (30%) coming back in his self-titled show. Vampires beware: Buffy herself is also returning, and one in ten are excited that Sarah Michelle Gellar (10%) is coming back to television, albeit as Robin Williams’s daughter.

    Pining for the past

    For every actor returning, there is one people wish would come back. He played the TV dad Americans want to have, and for one-quarter of Americans who watch television (26%) he’s the former star they would like to see come back to TV. Just over one in five say they would like to see Jennifer Anniston return (22%), while just under that would like to see Jerry Seinfeld (18%) come back to TV. Two very funny men round out the top five actors people would like to see return to television – Steve Carell (16%) and Bob Newhart (11%).

    Everyone has that one show they wish wasn’t cancelled and would come back. For 22% of television watchers, even though reruns are plentiful, they just want new episodes of Law & Order while 18% want the show about nothing Seinfeld, to return. Just under one in five (17%) want to know what happened after Rachel got off that plane and Monica and Chandler moved to the suburbs in Friends while 15% want to see what other sweaters Cliff Huxtable had in his closet on The Cosby Show.

    The bigger picture

    Something that shocked many people when the Emmy nominations were announced was that not only were there were no major network shows in the best drama category but, for the first time, one never even aired on any station – network or cable. Besides the streaming show, one is from PBS, two are from pay cable stations and two from basic cable. Is this the death of network TV? American TV viewers think not. Four in five (80%) agree that no matter what, there will always be network television, with almost half (47%) strongly agreeing. But, over half also agree that the shows on cable television are better than network television (57%) and that they find themselves watching more and more cable and less network television (57%).

    When it comes to types of cable shows, there is a divide. Four in ten television watchers (41%) agree that the shows on pay cable (e.g. HBO, Showtime) are better than basic cable (FX, AMC, TLC) shows, while 45% disagree. Looking to what could be the future, one-third of television watchers (32%) say they find themselves watching more and more television via streaming.

    To see the full lists of actors and shows and other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

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    TABLE 1

    TYPES OF TV SHOWS AMERICANS WATCH

    And now a few questions about television. Thinking about the shows you watch, which two types of shows would you say are your favorites?

    Base: All U.S. adults

    Total 2013

    Generation

    Gender

    Echo Boomers (18-36)

    Gen X.

    (37-48)

    Baby

    Boomers

    (49-67)

    Matures

    (68+)

    Men

    Women

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Comedy/Sitcoms

    39

    47

    44

    35

    18

    42

    35

    Detective/Crime

    32

    21

    30

    40

    42

    29

    35

    News

    24

    13

    16

    29

    53

    28

    21

    Drama

    23

    23

    21

    24

    28

    18

    28

    Reality/Competition

    19

    24

    24

    15

    9

    13

    25

    Sci-Fi/Fantasy

    17

    20

    22

    15

    6

    24

    11

    Dramedy

    6

    10

    6

    5

    1

    5

    7

    Soap Operas

    4

    1

    6

    6

    3

    1

    7

    Late Night Talk/Variety Shows

    4

    5

    4

    2

    5

    5

    3

    Daytime Talk Shows

    4

    5

    1

    4

    5

    2

    6

    Something else

    12

    9

    11

    13

    20

    15

    9

    Don’t really watch much TV

    5

    8

    5

    4

    3

    6

    5

    Note: Multiple responses accepted

    TABLE 2

    FAVORITE CURRENT TV SHOW

    Thinking about the shows that are currently on television, which two or three are your favorite shows?

    Base: All U.S. adults who watch television

    2013

    %

    The Big Bang Theory

    1

    NCIS

    2

    Criminal Minds

    3

    CSI

    4

    Law & Order SVU

    5

    Breaking Bad

    6

    Duck Dynasty

    7

    Family Guy

    8

    Modern Family

    9

    Person of Interest

    10

    Game of Thrones

    =11

    Dexter

    =11

    Major Crimes

    =11

    Grey’s Anatomy

    =11

    Castle

    15

    Note: Unprompted responses

    = indicates a tie for that position


    TABLE 3

    FAVORITE TV SHOW AMONG DIFFERENT GROUPS

    AMONG:

     

    Men

    The Big Bang Theory

    Women

    NCIS

    Echo Boomers (18-36)

    The Big Bang Theory

    Gen X (37-48)

    The Big Bang Theory

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    NCIS

    Matures (68+)

    NCIS

    Republicans

    NCIS

    Democrats

    NCIS

    Independents

    The Big Bang Theory

    Household with children

    The Big Bang Theory

    Household without children

    NCIS

    East

    The Big Bang Theory

    Midwest

    The Big Bang Theory

    South

    NCIS

    West

    NCIS

    High School or less

    NCIS

    Some College

    The Big Bang Theory

    College Graduate

    The Big Bang Theory

    Post Graduate

    NCIS


    TABLE 4

    NEW SHOWS PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO

    The fall television season starts in a few weeks. Of these new shows, which ones are you most looking forward to watching? You may select up to two shows

    Base: All U.S. adults who watch television

    Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Echo

    Boomers

    (18-36)

    Gen X.

    (37-48)

    Baby

    Boomers

    (49-67)

    Matures

    (68+)

    Men

    Women

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

    16

    20

    21

    12

    7

    23

    9

    The Michael J. Fox Show

    15

    11

    15

    19

    14

    12

    18

    Sleepy Hollow

    12

    16

    16

    10

    5

    13

    11

    The Crazy Ones

    9

    7

    7

    9

    12

    5

    12

    Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

    7

    11

    8

    5

    4

    5

    10

    Brooklyn Nine-Nine

    6

    8

    7

    5

    4

    8

    5

    Almost Human

    4

    6

    3

    3

    1

    4

    4

    Dracula

    4

    4

    7

    2

     

    4

    4

    The Originals

    3

    5

    2

    3

    1

    4

    3

    Intelligence

    3

    3

    3

    2

    4

    3

    3

    Trophy Wife

    3

    4

    2

    2

    1

    1

    4

    Lucky 7

    3

    2

    3

    3

    4

    2

    3

    Back in the Game

    2

    3

    2

    2

     

    2

    2

    Not at all sure

    48

    39

    42

    53

    67

    48

    49

    Note: Multiple responses accepted, indicates less than 0.5%

    TABLE 5

    RETURNING ACTORS PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO

    There are a lot of actors returning to television this season. Of these, which two are you most excited to see again on television shows?

    Base: All U.S. adults who watch television

    Total

    Generation

    Echo

    Boomers

    (18-36)

    Gen X.

    (37-48)

    Baby

    Boomers

    (49-67)

    Matures

    (68+)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Robin Williams

    39

    38

    35

    44

    34

    Michael J. Fox

    30

    29

    30

    33

    29

    Sarah Michelle Gellar

    10

    17

    10

    6

    4

    Blair Underwood

    9

    6

    9

    11

    7

    James Spader

    8

    7

    9

    8

    10

    James Caan

    8

    7

    7

    9

    12

    Tony Shaloub

    7

    5

    4

    7

    13

    Sean Hayes

    4

    4

    7

    4

    2

    Allison Janney

    4

    4

    3

    4

    3

    Toni Collette

    3

    5

    2

    3

    3

    Jonathan Rhys Myers

    3

    4

    7

    2

    1

    Josh Holloway

    2

    2

    2

    1

    2

    Not at all sure

    31

    28

    33

    29

    38

    Note: Multiple responses accepted

    TABLE 6

    ACTORS PEOPLE WISH WOULD RETURN TO TELEVISION

    For all the stars coming back to television, there are plenty who are missed. Which two of these former television stars would you like to see return to TV as more than just a guest star?

    Base: All U.S. adults who watch television

    Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Echo

    Boomers

    (18-36)

    Gen X.

    (37-48)

    Baby

    Boomers

    (49-67)

    Matures

    (68+)

    Men

    Women

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Bill Cosby

    26

    21

    25

    26

    36

    23

    28

    Jennifer Aniston

    22

    29

    22

    20

    10

    21

    22

    Jerry Seinfeld

    18

    19

    19

    19

    16

    24

    14

    Steve Carell

    16

    27

    17

    9

    5

    16

    16

    Bob Newhart

    11

    5

    8

    15

    21

    13

    9

    Jennifer Garner

    11

    11

    10

    11

    9

    10

    12

    Kelsey Grammer

    10

    7

    10

    13

    9

    11

    9

    Sarah Jessica Parker

    8

    13

    5

    6

    6

    5

    11

    Mary Tyler Moore

    7

    2

    5

    10

    15

    7

    7

    Candice Bergen

    7

    3

    4

    11

    8

    6

    8

    Matthew Fox

    5

    6

    5

    3

    3

    3

    6

    David Schwimmer

    4

    6

    5

    3

    1

    2

    5

    Pamela Anderson

    3

    3

    6

    2

    1

    6

    1

    Shannen Doherty

    3

    3

    6

    2

    1

    3

    3

    Kyle Chandler

    3

    3

    4

    2

    3

    2

    3

    Not at all sure

    20

    17

    21

    20

    27

    20

    19

    Note: Multiple responses accepted


    TABLE 7

    SHOWS PEOPLE WISH WOULD RETURN TO TELEVISION

    There are also plenty of past TV shows which are missed. Which two of these former television shows would you like to see return with new episodes?

    Base: All U.S. adults who watch television

    Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Echo

    Boomers

    (18-36)

    Gen X.

    (37-48)

    Baby

    Boomers

    (49-67)

    Matures

    (68+)

    Men

    Women

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Law & Order

    22

    22

    18

    25

    22

    21

    23

    Seinfeld

    18

    18

    20

    17

    17

    22

    14

    Friends

    17

    27

    23

    9

    5

    14

    20

    The Cosby Show

    15

    13

    14

    14

    23

    15

    16

    Cheers

    14

    9

    13

    18

    20

    21

    9

    ER

    14

    10

    17

    15

    15

    10

    18

    Everybody Loves Raymond

    13

    8

    14

    16

    13

    12

    13

    The West Wing

    9

    5

    5

    12

    18

    10

    8

    Lost

    9

    9

    8

    9

    5

    9

    8

    Sex and the City

    8

    14

    7

    4

    5

    3

    12

    Full House

    7

    16

    7

    1

    3

    6

    9

    Roseanne

    6

    10

    6

    5

    1

    5

    8

    Family Ties

    5

    5

    7

    6

    2

    5

    6

    LA Law

    5

    1

    4

    8

    10

    5

    5

    Not at all sure

    14

    11

    15

    16

    16

    17

    12

    Note: Multiple responses accepted


    TABLE 8

    HOW PEOPLE WATCH TELEVISION

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements.

    Base: U.S. adults who watch television

    AGREE

    (NET)

    Strongly

    agree

    Somewhat

    agree

    DISAGREE

    (NET)

    Somewhat

    disagree

    Strongly

    disagree

    Not at all

    sure

    No matter what there will always be network television

    %

    80

    47

    33

    10

    8

    3

    9

    The shows on cable television are better than network television (e.g., CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC) shows

    %

    57

    20

    38

    33

    23

    10

    10

    I find myself watching more and more cable and less network television (e.g., CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC)

    %

    57

    28

    29

    37

    22

    15

    5

    The shows on pay cable television stations (e.g., HBO, Showtime) are better than basic cable (e.g., FX, AMC, TLC) shows

    %

    41

    16

    25

    45

    24

    21

    14

    I find myself watching more and more television via streaming

    %

    32

    17

    16

    62

    16

    46

    5

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 14 to 19, 2013 among 2,286 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J43565

    Q805, 810, 815, 820, 825, 828, 830

    The Harris Poll® #60, September 5, 2013

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

    About Harris Interactive

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