Show about upper income workers draws upper income watchers

Season Four of Mad Men kicked off this past weekend. Ratings were good (2.92 million viewers) and the show attracted a large proportion of wealthy viewers. Mediaweek reports:

If Mad Men’s numbers can’t compete with high performing cable fare like TNT’s The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles––both of which are averaging around 7.4 million viewers through two episodes each––or USA’s Burn Notice (5.67 million) and Royal Pains (5.46 million), the show does attract a disproportionate spread of high-income supporters. Per Nielsen, approximately 48 percent of Mad Men’s audience is comprised of people who boast annual household income of $100,000 or more.

While it’s not a perfect comparison, USA’s entire suite of original series draws nearly a third (32 percent) of its deliveries from viewers in the 18-49 demo with annual incomes of $100,000 and up.

After seeing this report, I would be curious to see the income figures for other popular television shows. Compared to many television dramas and comedies which seem to aim for a broader audience and so often include more average families and workplaces, Mad Men presents a more upper-class setting. I would assume there are splits between social classes in regards to what television shows are popular.

Even if Mad Men does present compelling and worthy story lines examining the complicated world of the 1960s (and critics do seem to like it), is it just making a presentation for mainly upper class viewers? At the same time, the show also presents an image of “the good life” (and the downsides of it) which could appeal to many.

I’m guessing these income figures appeal to advertisers.

(Full disclosure: I have only seen a few minutes of the show though I have read several appraisals by critics.)

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