After a very intense week of war and the war on TV, I feel my attention beginning to wander. I find all coverage all the time unnerves me and leaves me drained like too much sugar or caffeine. I want, no, need, to know what’s going on, but to be immersed in the audio-visual hubbub over great swaths of my waking hours does little or nothing to improve my UNDERSTANDING of the situation.
The broadcast networks are apparently feeling this way too, having already returned to their regular programming for the most part:
- Extensive coverage of the first week of war lured more people to their TV sets — overall viewership increased 20% last Thursday — but as the conflict continues, many are returning to routine media use.
Cable news ratings predictably spiked, but the trend is slowing as the war moves from early urgency to lingering TV saga. The most dramatic news events are concentrated in mornings or afternoons. As broadcast networks, which initially devoted the majority of their prime-time blocks to war reports, returned to regular programming, so did viewers. American Idol, the Miss USA Pageant and Tuesday’s Celine Dion concert drew substantial audiences.
Viewers are ”very set in their patterns,” says David Marans of the MindShare media-buying firm. ”They can be affected for a few days, but by and large they stick with what they normally do. They know that if something dramatic happens, they will be told about it.” [USA Today]
We were back watching American Idol – it was “country-rock” night – and 24 – post nuke – Tuesday night; and last night, after it took an hour to find out that Julia DeMato had been Excised by America – finally – from Idol, and listening to not one, but two rousing group renditions of “Proud to Be An American,” it was time to just shut the TV off period.
Since I heard the same news on NRP this morning that I read last night on the web, I guess I didn’t miss anything important. Maybe we’re all just catching our collective breath before the Battle of Baghdad.