Nielsen, the company behind television ratings in the United States, has begun to include LGBTI households in their research. For the first time, shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race have performed well in their rankings due to this new demographic.
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Previously, Drag Race and Untucked only garnered a few hundred thousand viewers, by Nielsen data, and were ranked the 285th and 359th most viewed shows, respectively. However, the week of 15 April was the first time LGBTI households were included. With that, Drag Race and Untucked became the #3 and #9 most watched shows, respectively.
Nielsen ratings are an important tool for television creators. For some, this inclusion of LGBTI viewing habits is long overdue.
‘From our clients’ perspective, this is incredibly valuable,’ Rachel Lowenstein, an associate director of Invention Plus, told the New York Times.
‘Look at how much L.G.B.T.Q. couples make in terms of their household income. From a disposable-income and consumer-spending standpoint, they are a lucrative audience.’
Some shows, such as HBO’s Game of Thrones, showed little difference between same-sex and opposite-sex households. Game of Thrones was the #1 cable show for both groups.
For other shows, the disparity is a lot clearer. ABC’s The Conners (minus Roseanne Barr) was the #1 watched network show this season for same-sex households, despite being #31 overall.
The week of 15 April found Sean Hannity’s Fox News show among the top 12 most-watched shows overall. However, for LGBTI households, it ranked 247. By contrast, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show had higher ratings among LGBTI households than the general population.
Why it matters
While the lack of LGBTI representation has long been frustrating for television creators, it was only when GLAAD called Nielsen that the company began to find a solution.
‘I would not discount being counted,’ said Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD. ‘I think it’s more important than ever that, as part of L.G.B.T.Q. community, we are being counted and in whatever way that is.’
Brian Fuhrer, Nielsen’s senior vice president for product leadership, concurs.
‘There are things that are good for the business, and there are things that are just the right thing to do,’ he told the New York Times. ‘This is an unusual situation where both came into alignment.’