HOLLYWOOD — NBC is the net to beat next season in the battle to attract the most young adults, but it could afford to be even Peacock-ier about its chances if it grabbed a larger chunk of the male aud.
The net finished the 2000-01 season as the primetime leader in adults 18-49 thanks to a healthy 13% advantage in women over second-place ABC. But in men 18-49, it finished 15% behind first-place Fox and just a tick better than third-place ABC.
It’s this gender disparity that has left NBC as the most femme-dependent of the major networks, according to Nielsen data, with 57% of its adults 18-49 audience coming from women. Its winning lineups on Friday (64% female) and Thursday (61%) remain the most lady-leaning on any major network.
NBC’s percentage is actually down slightly from a year ago, but CBS became even more balanced this season and moved to second in this category (56%) after being 58% female a year ago.
The Eye balanced its gender scales by adding shows like “Survivor” (53% female) and “CSI” (56%) and bringing more of a male tilt to its Sunday movie (58% female, down from last season’s 61%). Its newsmags are also collectively now skewing much more male than the other nets.
The loss, though, of “Nash Bridges” and “Walker, Texas Ranger” — at 56% female, two of the net’s most male-skewing programs — figure to make its Friday and Saturday more femme next season.
ABC was flat year-to-year and remained third (54% female), but it has lost two of its most male comedies (“Norm,” 54% female, and “Two Guys and a Girl,” 55%) while adding the heavily female laffers “What About Joan” (63%) and “My Wife and Kids” (62%).
Fox is more testosterone-tilting than ever, now just 47% female (down from last year’s 50-50 gender split) and finding itself, much like NBC, looking for more balance. Only two of the net’s returning scripted programs attract more females than males (Monday’s “Boston Public” and “Ally McBeal”) and it possesses the seven most male-skewing returning laffers on any net.
Among the more niche-oriented weblets, UPN is 47% female and the WB is a whopping 62%. Of note here is that the heavily femme Frog is losing its most male-skewing hit, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (57% female), to rival UPN next season.
For the Peacock, the loss of “Seinfeld” and the NFL in 1998 put a crimp in its ability to recruit male viewers, but there are three other factors contributing to its female tilt:
- Net’s comedies skew heavily female and none of its offerings in recent years have been particularly male faves. Five of the most dame-driven returning network comedies air on NBC, led by “Three Sisters” (63% female) and “Will & Grace” (61%).
“The Michael Richards Show” (54% female) and “3rd Rock From the Sun” (57%) were the most male-skewing of NBC’s laffers this season, but they’re both gone now.
This is one of the factors driving the net’s selection of new laffers for next season: Both “Scrubs” and “Inside Schwartz” are quirky fast-paced sitcoms with young male leads, while its other laffer, “Emeril,” stars male chef Emeril Lagasse and is seen as a potentially equal draw among men and women.
- NBC was late to the reality table, where “Survivor,” “Temptation Island” and “Boot Camp” have produced some of the most ideal gender makeups on the nets.
Males appear to be taking to the net’s “Weakest Link,” though, as its tart-tongued host and cut-throat voting process has resulted in an adults 18-49 aud that’s only 54% female. Among its returning programs, only NBC’s Saturday movie skews more male.
Summer reality programming like “Fear Factor” and “Spy TV” are additional efforts to grab more men.
- Thanks to its more sensational and emotionally driven stories, “Dateline” is by far the most femme-leaning newsmag franchise; its Friday, Tuesday and Monday hours were composed of nearly 61% females. (Sunday’s edition, which often led out of baseball and basketball, was more male.)
This gender imbalance, of course, like the rest of NBC’s sked in general, is no cause for panic — especially when the net’s strength among young women helps it remain on top in the demo it lives for: adults 18-49.
But as the net prepares for an autumn without a strong sports presence (no baseball or pro football for the first time in 35 years), don’t be thinking it’s something that doesn’t concern the NBC suits in Burbank.
So, just what was the most male-skewing series to air on the nets last season? NBC’s own XFL.