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Nielsen Report Gets the Picture on Generation Gap

“Roseanne” was the most popular TV series in the country last season--but not among people older than 55. The ABC sitcom didn’t even rank among their Top 10.

“The Simpsons,” on the other hand, was the favorite show among people between ages 18 and 24--but it didn’t make the Top 10 among all viewers.

That different age groups would have different TV tastes shouldn’t come as a surprise, but during the regular TV season that fact tends to get masked by the weekly A. C. Nielsen report that lumps them all together to show the top programs among all viewers.

When the TV season ended, however, Nielsen issued demographic breakdowns of the varied Top 10s. The exercise is not just academic: Most advertisers are interested in reaching young adult viewers because they are thought to be more willing to try new products and to shift brand allegiances. That’s why CBS, for example--which had four of the Top 10 shows among the 55-and-older crowd but none among those for two younger categories--has said that its fall schedule will target younger audiences.

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Here are the Nielsen breakdowns:

Adults, 18 to 24

1. “The Simpsons,” Fox.

2. “Roseanne,” ABC.

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3. “Cheers,” NBC.

4. “A Different World,” NBC.

5. “American’s Funniest Home Videos,” ABC.

6. “The Cosby Show,” NBC.

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7. “Married . . . With Children,” Fox.

8. “The Wonder Years,” NBC.

9. “Coach,” NBC.

10. “Dear John,” NBC.

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Adults, 25 to 54

1. “Roseanne,” ABC.

2. “American’s Funniest Home Videos,” ABC.

3. “Cheers,” NBC.

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4. “The Cosby Show,” NBC.

5. “Dear John,” NBC.

6. “A Different World,” NBC.

7. “The Wonder Years,” NBC.

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8. “Chicken Soup,” ABC.

9. “Coach,” NBC.

10. “L.A. Law,” NBC.

Adults, 55 and older

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1. “60 Minutes,” CBS.

2. “Murder, She Wrote,” CBS.

3. “Matlock,” NBC.

4. “In the Heat of the Night,” NBC.

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5. “The Golden Girls,” NBC.

6. “Empty Nest,” NBC.

7. “Unsolved Mysteries,” NBC.

8. “Jake and the Fatman,” CBS.

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9. “CBS Sunday Movie,” CBS.

10. “Carol and Company,” NBC.

Total Audience

1. “Roseanne,” ABC.

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2. “The Cosby Show,” NBC.

3. “Cheers,” NBC.

4. “A Different World,” NBC.

5. “American’s Funniest Home Videos,” ABC.

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6. “The Golden Girls,” NBC.

7. “60 Minutes,” CBS.

8. “The Wonder Years,” NBC.

9. “Empty Nest,” NBC.

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10. “Monday Night Football,” ABC.


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