Talkers Dominate Top 10 TV Personalities

February 1, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Boomers & Older | Broadcast & Cable | Media & Entertainment | Men | Television | Women | Youth & Gen X

Talk show hosts were prevalent among the top 10 U.S. TV personalities in 2009, according to a Harris Interactive poll.

The top four personalities were all talk show hosts. Oprah Winfrey, the number four TV personality of 2008, assumed the top spot in 2009, benefiting from the publicity her announcement she will end her show in September 2011 received. Conservative Fox News host Glenn Beck made a strong first-time showing on the list at number two. Former and future “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, number one in 2008, dropped to number three in 2009. The poll took place before the controversy surrounding Leno’s return to the “Tonight Show” took place.

Ellen DeGeneres, host of an eponymous morning talk show and newest “American Idol” judge, dropped from number thee in 2008 to number four in 2009, tying with Hugh Laurie, star of the popular Fox medical drama “House.” Laurie was number two in 2008.

The rest of the top 10 in 2009, with their 2008 ranking in parentheses, are:

6. Jon Stewart (6)
7. Charlie Sheen (7)
8. Mark Harmon (9)
9. David Letterman (5)
10. Bill O’Reilly (not ranked in 2008)

Women Like Oprah, Men Prefer Jay

Broken down demographically, different TV personalities are number one with different groups. Winfrey was number one with women overall, single women, married women, Gen X (33-44), baby boomers (45-63), Democrats, moderates, and residents of the East and South. Leno was number one with men overall, while Beck reigned supreme with Republicans, independents, conservatives, matures (64-plus) and residents of the Midwest. Liberals preferred Jon Stewart and Westerners liked Hugh Laurie. Recently departed “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien was favored by echo boomers (18-32).

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TV Needs Stars

TV networks are in desperate need of star personalities and may sorely miss Winfrey’s popular syndicated talk show, according to a recent report from BIA/Kelsey. The television industry in the US is expected to see lower-than-expected revenues of $15.6 billion in 2009 that will make for a 22.4% decline for the year. The significant drop begins a leveling-off of TV industry revenues, to the mid-$10 billion level – a level not seen since the mid-1990s – through at least 2013. Although online revenues and performance of some local markets are expected to grow in the next few years, NBC’s reluctance to let number three 2009 TV personality Jay Leno leave the network makes more sense given these figures.

About the Survey: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US December 7-14, 2009 among 2,276 adults aged 18 and up. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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