Twenty years ago, not only were we watching a different set of TV shows—we were watching TV very differently. Back in 1992, we were paying attention to the fictional career travails of Murphy Brown and the travails-in-general of Roseanne. By 2012, both shows were long gone—as was the notion that you have to watch a particular program at a particular time.
Today, Nielsen tracks two sets of ratings: the top prime-time shows and the top time-shifted ones. In prime time, we’re most likely to tune in to football and reality-based fare like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. The shows we record to watch later tend to be edgy dramas like Mad Men,
Breaking Bad, and Justified.
|1992Top ten shows||Top ten prime-time shows||2012Top ten time-shifted shows*|
|60 MInutes||NBC Sunday Night Football||Breaking Bad|
|Roseanne||American Idol—Wednesday||Mad Men|
|Murphy Brown||American Idol—Thursday||Warehouse 13|
|Cheers||Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick||Covert Affairs|
|Home Improvement||Dancing with the Stars||Suits|
|Designing Women||Dancing with the Stars Results||Justified|
|Murder, She Wrote||NFL Regular Season||Sons of Anarchy|
|Unsolved Mysteries||Vegas||American Horror Story|
* Recorded and watched later