Gender Equity (Until America Watches TV, That Is)

Rash Report: 'Fiesta Bowl,' 'Bachelor' Split along Gender Lines

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Sure, a lot of the decade's detractors are calling the last ten years the zeroes. But at least in terms of progress in gender equity, it was a remarkable time: The most recent cover of The Economist, for instance, updates the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster, changing the text from "We Can Do It!" to "We Did It!," adding the cover question "What Happens When Women are Over Half the Workforce."

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
And thankfully it's no longer jobs (and sexist work environments) like those the secretaries of the "Mad Men" era faced, but Secretaries of State like Hilary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Madeline Albright of the Obama, Bush and Clinton eras. And just yesterday Amanda Simpson, who is believed to be the first transgendered presidential appointee, began her job at the Commerce Department.

But of course, most of these great gains took place during the workday. At night, the genders seem more separate than ever, as evidenced by Monday's ratings race.

Just check out the demo delivery for the season premiere of "The Bachelor" and ABC's latest attempt at a compatible companion, "Conveyer Belt of Love." In the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, "The Bachelor" scored a 3.3/8 rating and share, which was 6% higher than its equivalent premiere last January. "Conveyer Belt of Love" manufactured a 2.6/7, which was 21% below "The Bachelor" and 16% lower than "True Beauty," last year's reality-dating companion piece.

But while the "Bachelor" and "Conveyer" hookup resulted in a second place 3.1/8 with adults, "The Bachelor" skewed 74% female in the age range while "Conveyer" had a two-thirds female audience. Conversely, Fox -- which finished first overall with a 4.6/12 for the combination of the Fiesta Bowl and its pre-game show -- was mostly a guy thing, as it skewed 70% male in the 18-49 age-range.

Of course, this shouldn't be surprising. Not just because of basic human nature, but also because while the gains in social equity were one of the decade's defining dynamics, so too were technological transformations and the resulting media fragmentation. This led to men and women often working on computer screens next to one another during the day, but then watching their TV screens quite differently during the night, as TV, movies and video games are increasingly gender targeted.

The CW, which is at the vanguard of understanding youth culture, has also gotten into the act, gearing an entire broadcast network around narrow programming like last night's reruns of "One Tree Hill" (.4/1) and "Gossip Girl" (.3/1), which are specifically targeted toward teen girls and young women.

Rash gridsEnlarge
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

And despite NBC's "Heroes" (2.2/5) struggling with its kryptonite of disinterest, it does manage a near-even 52/48 male/female split. This led into "The Jay Leno Show" (1.5/4), as NBC finished fourth with a 2.0/5.

CBS, which usually finishes first on Monday nights, finished third with a 2.6/7. This was mostly due to running reruns of "CSI: Miami" (2.4/6) and its successful sitcom lineup ("How I Met Your Mother," 2.3/6; "Accidentally on Purpose," 2.1/5; "Two and a Half Men," 3.3/8; "Big Bang Theory," 3.5/8). Maybe the comedies work so well because, despite delivering an average 57% female viewership Monday night, each contains characters that give a glimpse of the relatively younger men who seem to only watch network prime time for events like the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: Just in time for those New Year's resolutions, it's the season premiere of "The Biggest Loser" on NBC.
Wednesday: Lisa Kudrow cameos on Courtney Cox's "Cougar Town," which reunites the two friends from "Friends."

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Tougher competition for tonight's FedEx Orange Bowl, if not on-field, than in the ratings race, as ABC, CBS and NBC all run originals.

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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)

John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.

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