Discovery & TLC viewers lean Right?

By Razib Khan | April 14, 2010 3:29 am

I’ve watched television shows via my computer since 2004, so I’m not too plugged in to the changes in channel line-ups. But some of the trends on this chart showing the political orientation of television viewers surprised me. In particular, that the History Channel, Discovery and TLC all lean Right in their viewers. But then again television viewing has a somewhat older skew I assume, and older people are more conservative today. Thoughts? It makes more sense now that TLC has Sarah Palin’s new show if they knew their viewer demographics well. CNBC’s slight Leftward tilt is surprising to me as well, but remember that a fair amount of the cultural Left is rather affluent (Barack Obama and Bill Bradley were both notable for initially fueling their insurgent campaigns thanks to big donations from investment bankers, Obama successfuly).


Source (H/T Steve)

MORE ABOUT: Politics, Television
  • John Emerson

    The Democratic Party are now center or center-left at best, so skewing Democratic isn’t really skewing left. The left in the US consist of a substantial part of the Democratic voters and perhaps 10-20% of the electorate, but it’s uninfluential within the party and in fact is treated as an enemy by the leadership. The Democrats are so bought into business and finance that in a given case they can be as rightwing as the Republicans. To the extent that a radical or populist response would be appropriate to the present financial crisis (anf I absolutely think that it is) we should not look for it from the Democratic Party.

    There must be a group of Democratic voters that watches less TV than conservative voters. The Republican demographics above are bigger and more likely to vote than the Democratic demographics, but actual voting results aren’t that dramatically different. The low turnout of many “Democratic” demographics is (in my opinion) the result of the stranglehold that big money and the centrists have on the party.

    I don’t watch the History Channel, but history is an academic field that appeals to conservatives (along with economics, law, and political theory). I used to be a member of the History Book Club, but I quit when they started garbage books by people like Bill O’Reilly. Whether that was a response to their membership’s demands or an imposition by management, I don’t know. (In the case of CNN, though, liberals and Democrats have been very unhappy recently by the inane centrist or center-right slant of its reporting and news. Based on the data above, this must be a top-down management decision rather than a case of consumer demand.)

  • dpc

    Interesting that there is a paucity of channels in the lower right quadrant. Us dems need to work on the GOTV efforts aimed at the VH1 demographic.

    I also wonder how the graph would look with age and sex on the axes.

  • David

    John Emerson:

    The idea is that it is not based on consumer demand is based on the invalid view that the viewers are the consumer.

    The viewers are the network’s product.

    It is the advertisers are who they are marketing to.

    The media companies could care less who is watching as long as they have some numbers to sell their advertisers.

  • Lab Lemming

    Where do liberals go to check the weather?

  • Evan Harper

    Yeah, it’s important to remember that despite the antics of people like Larry Kudlow, big finance actually trends Democratic.

    Also, it’s not surprising that History Channel would attract conservatives, given that maybe 70% of its oeuvre is about Hitler. Zing!

  • Bob Carlson

    I also wonder how the graph would look with age and sex on the axes.

    My hunch is that level of education might be more informative, particularly with respect to the lower left quadrant.

  • David

    Lab Lemming:

    Depends on your viewpoint,

    Either they have the heads in the clouds and already know or they have their heads stuck up their…..


  • ChH

    Right / Left is a gross oversimplification. Some of us have little in common with either option, and are not in between either. See what I mean by taking the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz”:

  • Steve

    TLC’s placement is a little surprising to me because I thought it would be further to the right since roughly 40% of their programing consists of reality shows about families with more children than a professional baseball team.

  • XXL

    That data definitely supports the view that women are more liberal: SoapNet, Lifetime, and VH1 are on the left, as well as Nickelodeon, ABC Family and Disney, because mothers would be watching those channels with their children.

    Young adults are also more liberal, and we see Comedy Central, VH1, and E! on the left.

    The position of the Golf Channel just confirms to me that it is the root of all evil. :-)

    ChH: you mean the World’s Dumbest Political Quiz? If it’s difficult to characterize political opinion along a single axis, then a mere 10 questions, cherry picked and phrased in a loaded way, isn’t going to tell you anything except what the authors want you to think.

  • XXL

    BTW, I could write my own political quiz and make almost anyone look like an economic liberal. Here are a few propositions that you should agree (Y) or disagree (N) with:

    1) End corporate “welfare.” No government handouts to business (yes, this is lifted straight for TWSPQ, but it’s so perfectly biased, with loaded words like “welfare” and “handouts”)

    2) Taxes are necessary for, among other things, the common defense

    3) Simplify the tax code and remove loop holes that allow large corporations to have reduced or negative tax liabilities

    4) Handicapped, mentally ill, and infirm people benefit greatly from temporary public support

    5) Although regulations increase the cost of goods, they help us avoid public health disasters like the lead contamination of toys or melamine contamination of pet food in China

    If you agreed with those propositions, then I effectively made you agree that, 1) businesses should not be subsidized, 2) we need taxes, 3) we should increase taxes on businesses, 4) welfare is good, and 5) we need regulations on goods and services.

    It’s all in how you propagandize it.

  • ChH

    XXL asks about loaded questions to twist the results.
    I’ll let the site answer that question:

    A few comments on your quiz:
    #1. Ending corporate welfare is an economically conservative position.
    #2. Everyone but anarchists agrees on that.

  • nohype

    The graph is not consistent with CNN’s claim that it is middle of the road. It appears to be almost as far left as MSNBC.

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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