In-case you missed the memo: 2010 was the most watched year in TV ever.
That was just last year. Some seven months ago. People were watching more TV than any other time in history. The average person during 2010 watched 34 hours of TV each week. That averages out to an average of about 4 hours of TV every day. That’s a lot of TV, no matter what side of the “TV is good for you/TV is bad for you” spectrum you lay on.
Why were people in the U.S. watching more cable TV than ever before? Was it the quality of shows capturing our attention? With hit series like “The Walking Dead” on AMC and “Jersey Shore” (MTV’s most watched show ever) crowding the airwaves, the quality of TV has definitely not changed dramatically (though some might argue that point).
And what about rumors of services like Hulu and Netflix cutting down on TV watching time, what ever happened to those reports? Is it possible that people tuned-in to watch more TV because it was available to them in more ways than the big box sitting in their living room?
Perhaps the rising number in TV watching is a direct response to American unemployment? The more people sitting at home instead of going into work means the more people available to catch a hit show or catchup on old episodes, right?
Well, unfortunately, the results are inconclusive. We don’t know exactly why 2010 was the most watched year in TV, but we do know that it shows promise into the value of TV as a news, entertainment, and educational tool. Channels focusing on educational and informative broadcasts (like the History channel and Ion TV) saw tremendous growth during 2010, while many other channels (most notably FOX News and CNN) saw a decline in viewers.
According to this article from the New York Times: “Perhaps the most eye-popping growth on television came from the relatively small Investigation Discovery, or I.D., which specializes in nonfiction crime stories and is owned by Discovery Communications. I.D. averaged 283,000 viewers at any given time, a gain of 64 percent over the previous year.”
Maybe more people are simply starting to realize the benefits of TV as more than just a time-sucker, as a valuable tool for a lot of reasons (some good, and some bad).