Gender Gap Becomes Gulf Monday Night

Rash Report: 'Home Run Derby,' 'Bachelorette' Divide Audience

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Monday morning's TV was dominated by senators sitting down with Sonia Sotomayor, who looks to continue to break down barriers if she is confirmed and becomes only the third woman on the U.S. Supreme Court. Monday night's TV, however -- dominated by ESPN's MLB Home Run Derby and ABC's "The Bachelorette" commitment -- built barriers back up, as the gender divide that's dissipating in America's courtrooms was alive and well in America's living rooms.

ESPN's MLB Home Run Derby had a 70/30 male/female split among adults 18 to 49, while ABC's 'The Bachelorette' had a 26/74 inverse index.
ESPN's MLB Home Run Derby had a 70/30 male/female split among adults 18 to 49, while ABC's 'The Bachelorette' had a 26/74 inverse index. Credit: ESPN/ABC
The Home Run Derby was the most-watched event of the night, with a 3.2/10 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic. It beat "The Bachelorette," which won a 2.7/8 and tied with CBS's "Two and a Half Men" as the most-watched broadcast show. But not surprisingly, men and women were on different planets, or at least in different rooms, as far as viewing was concerned.

The Home Run Derby had a 70/30 male/female split among adults 18 to 49, while "The Bachelorette" had a 26/74 inverse index. ("Two and a Half Men" had a more even 47/53 split.)

In a case of art (or scheduling) imitating life, the season finale of "Here Come the Newlyweds" followed "The Bachelorette" and also beat its broadcast brethren (albeit with only 29% male viewership) with a 1.9/5. That gave ABC the win in the network ratings race, as it averaged a 2.4/7 for the night, ahead of a second-place 2.1/6 for CBS's repeat-replete schedule. Fox and NBC tied for third with a 1.1/3, and the CW finished fifth with a .2/1.

Of course, gender gaps are mostly the norm, both in media and in life. Indeed, TV's gender balance in its early days was due not to artistic expression but rather to the technological constraints of three networks and one TV in the house. Now that screens have multiplied along with viewing options, differences in gender, generation, geography and other demographics play out in ratings.

This often happens despite casting that should blur barriers. TNT's "The Closer" (1.4/4) for instance, features a female lead, Kyra Sedgwick, in the tough guy world of the LAPD Homicide Unit, which should be good for gender balance. But last night, only a third in the 18-to-49 demo were male, about the same ratio as for the CW's "Gossip Girl" (.2/0).

Rash chart July 13, 2009Click for PDF
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

And despite the hype for "The Closer" and "Gossip Girl," they were both beat in the ratings by "WWE Entertainment" on USA, which smacked down the eighth- and 11th-highest ratings of the night with the 10 p.m. episode delivering a 1.9/5 and the 9 p.m. version a 1.7/5. WWE's secret weapon: women, with a 60/40 gender split in the 18-to-49 demo.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: Tonight's MLB All-Star Game on Fox is the only all-star game that really matters. No, not just because I'm a baseball fan! It really counts, as the league that wins gets home-field advantage for the World Series.
Wednesday: After Tuesday's midsummer classic, Wednesday brings midsummer camp, with reality series "Wipeout" on ABC, "So You Think You Can Dance" on Fox and "America's Got Talent" on NBC.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Higher tune-in than usual for Fox's pre-game, as White Sox fan (and, oh, yeah, President) Barack Obama throws out the first pitch.

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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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