Red, Purple and Blue TV

Conservatives and liberals don’t just differ on political candidates. They prefer different TV shows, movies and videogames, according to a new survey by the Zogby Institute. USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center commissioned the study, and its director, Marty Kaplan, blogged about it at Huffington Post, concluding

(W)hen it comes to entertainment, conservatives are way more PC than liberals.

People on the right — and that characterization of them comes from their answers to 24 questions designed to reveal their political values — don’t like to consume entertainment that doesn’t reflect their worldview, and they feel that way about a lot of it. But people at the other end of the political spectrum are voracious in their entertainment consumption. They enjoy watching, reading and listening to plenty of stuff that runs counter to, even offends, their political values. Over 80 percent of liberals say they’re entertained by material that’s in bad taste, but over 40 percent of conservatives say they’re never entertained by it.

Conservatives don’t just love Fox News; they also prefer the Fox network, home of 24, but also smart-ass shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Generally, conservatives prefer action/adventure shows, business and sports programs. Liberals don’t like any of those genres much, but they enjoy comedies, drama, documentaries and arts programming — all of which turn off conservatives. Liberals and moderates both prefer NBC (so how come it’s usually third or fourth in the ratings?)

The liberal audience is 57 percent female, the conservative audience 57 percent male.

Moderates — “purples” — like Fox News, too; 27 percent of them watch it daily. They like police procedurals, game shows, other daytime programming and children’s shows. The survey checked out musical tastes, too. Moderates dig the rock ‘n roll, conservatives prefer classical, followed by country and rock, and liberals “enjoy almost every musical genre.”

Wired News reviewed the study for information on videogames. Conservatives “are not big fans of videogames, but when they do play, Madden NFL and Mario are their favorites.” Moderates, similarly, prefer Mario, Donkey Kong, and Madden. Liberals “tend to play more videogames than the other groups, with Mario and The Sims being particular favorites.”

So, Mario is one big winner in this survey.  The other across-the-board favorite?  Football.

Zogby’s press release has a convoluted lead that tries to make an elusive point about Rush Limbaugh’s popularity.   But by the third graf, they start making a little more sense.  Limbaugh’s ratings success is due to the fact that he gets the conservative listeners you’d expect, but liberals and moderates tune in, too, because they are more willing “to listen to commentary and entertainment with which they disagreed philosophically.”

Conservatives don’t return the favor.  If a program “doesn’t reflect their values,” they don’t listen to it.  They don’t watch Comedy Central, for example, home of the liberal comedy hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  So, while liberals know what conservatives say about them, conservatives filter out liberals’ response.

Who gets the political advantage?  Does Limbaugh convert liberals and moderates?  Or does listening to his program give liberals a head start in developing arguments against his views?

If you advertise, what does this study tell you?  If you want to reach a wide audience, apparently you should spend your money on conservative shows, since liberals and moderates tune in.  But if your product appeals to those who like reggae music, documentaries and Jon Stewart, you can target that audience more efficiently.

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