Want to “win” a conversation over drinks tonight? Here you go. (Note: for the sake of this script and the reality that you really can’t rehearse this with an actual human if you don’t want to be the Worst Person Ever, a real person has been substituted with the inanimate object of the year: a chair.)
Chair: Oh my God did you hear Here Comes Honey Boo Boo beat the RNC in ratings?
You: That can’t be true. Even if Honey Boo Boo is the new Jersey Shore (like, first season Jersey Shore when you could still like it ironically before all the legitimate Jersey Shore fans came to the fore, and it became like another Kardashians) there’s no way it beat all the cable and network news coverage combined.
You: Yes, I do look at the internet. In fact I look at the internet so much that my dreams are like a sequence of disorganized Chrome tabs. And I did see that the Hollywood Reporter said that HBB topped the RNC in ratings. However, the total viewership of the episode of Boo Boo that ran Wednesday night, when Paul Ryan spoke, was 3 million, and the total viewership of the RNC was about 20 million.
Chair: Dude, no. It’s obvious that Democrats were watching HBB.
You: Maybe you read that somewhere, but I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think you can say that, based on the number of people that watched an unrelated television program, that a certain other television program has a partisan viewership. But back to the original topic: what the Hollywood Reporter actually reported is that if you compare a specific demographic of people watching Honey Boo Boo to the same demographic watching individual networks’ RNC programming, Honey Boo Boo got more viewers. But the RNC is covered by tons of network and cable news channels, and cumulatively, they still got 20 million viewers during the RNC — roughly seven times HBB’s 3 million.
Chair: But the ratings were higher.
You: That’s true — the ratings for certain demographics were higher. Among television viewers ages 18 to 49, Honey Boo Boo got a 1.3 rating. Meanwhile, Fox News landed a slightly lower rating of 1.2. But what those numbers mean is that 1.3 and 1.2 percent of all households with people ages 18 to 49 who own televisions were tuned into these respective programs. Now, TV Newser tells us: ‘From 10-(just after) 11PM, when the broadcasters were live, [Fox News Channel] averaged 7.70 million total viewers, including 2.07 million in the key adults 25-54 demo.’ So overall, Fox News has more than twice the number of viewers that Honey Boo Boo did. However in that demographic, it and all the other networks individually did not have more viewers than Honey Boo Boo.
You: I get that it’s tempting to sensationalize the story (because Honey Boo Boo is nothing but sensation, only in the opposite kind of way someone like, say, Beyoncé is). But more people actually tuned into what many would agree was the newsiest thing happening on Wednesday night. What’s actually interesting about the RNC ratings is not how they stack up to Honey Boo Boo’s, but how they compare with the 2008 RNC ratings. TV Newser reports that the ratings for the second night of the RNC in 2008, looking at Nielsen-rated networks, was 37 million. So you might say the real story here is that the RNC ratings were down 17 million, which is a lot. And what’s interesting about that is that Sarah Palin spoke on the second night of the RNC in ‘08, but wasn’t invited to speak this time around (a decision some questioned since she’s seen as an energizing figure within the party).
Chair: Well, I guess that’s good. I mean, I would never watch Honey Boo Boo over the RNC. As an intellectual, I loathe “lowest common denominator” television.
You: Yes, we should all be thankful that the wider interests of the nation encompass harder news than Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on TLC. And Jersey Shore’s next season will be its last so, you know, glimmers of hope! And I get that it sucks that if we actually look at this thing closely, and analyze the reporting a little bit, we lose out on quite a few sensationalistic blog headlines. But look at it this way: after Clint Eastwood’s big moment we really don’t need to look for ways to semi-fabricate sensationalistic news.
Chair: True. He’s done more for my profile than I could have ever dreamed of. Just call me Honey Chair Chair.
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