Homeland. The Good Wife. The Affair. The Walking Dead. Mad Men. Masters of Sex. Veep. Game of Thrones. When you think of the best (and most Emmy-nominated) shows on TV, almost all of them air on Sunday nights. As I wrote at Quartz,
It seems counterintuitive to pit all of TV’s best series against one another, as anyone who’s tried to program a DVR on Sundays can attest. But there is in fact a method to the networks’ madness, and five reasons why Sunday night’s quality TV overload exists—and won’t be going away anytime soon.
Through Nielsen numbers crunching (charts!), research and a great chat with Showtime Network President David Nevins, I came up with five very strong reasons — some of which surprised even me. Here’s one: airing on Sunday night is more important than being watched on Sunday night.
While many of the Sunday shows have drawn record audiences as mentioned above, it’s also true that premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime aren’t beholden to advertisers. So those executives don’t have the expectation or urgency that viewers need to tune in “live” during their shows’ initial Sunday night airing. “I always say, it doesn’t matter to me whether you watch it on Sunday; I’m fine if you want to want until Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Nevins. “You wait much past then, you’re going to miss the conversation.”
Hundreds of reporters have assembled at TCA summer press tour, but as far as I’m aware, I’m the only one who wrote a detailed story about the fascinating panel with CBS, FX, Fox and Showtime’s research gurus, who talked about how audiences actually watch TV now.
“We’re in a new era of television,” said David Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS, noting that weekly TV viewing has increased 2% over the last three years, from 35 hours and 36 minutes to 37 hours and 50 minutes. “This is a golden era of television content, and the public is embracing television and engaging with television in a way that they never did before, because it is so much good programming.”
While I usually try to summarize my stories a bit here, there’s so much terrific information throughout the piece about delayed viewing lifts and multi-platform audiences that I urge you to read the whole thing yourself.