What happens to the audience when a program changes time?


Loyalty to television shows is a vexing and important issue. While a show may get about the same rating from one week to the next, studies have shown that only about forty percent of this week’s audience will go on to watch next week’s episode. In addition, what appears to be program loyalty may really be time loyalty, with someone continuing to watch a show just because ‘nothing else is on’. In this paper, we examine program loyalty among shows that have actually changed time. This provides a natural experiment in program loyalty, since if someone is truly loyal to a show they should continue to watch it even if it moves time. Hence we can disentangle the effects of program and time loyalty. We examine viewing loyalty for forty two prime time shows that have been rescheduled and study the audience before and after the move. We also study loyalty for different program types. Finally, we examine the demographic characteristics of loyal viewers for some shows.

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