Not a Bazinga! The Big Bang Theory is America's Favorite Current Television Show

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD is the new show television watchers are most looking forward to seeing

Sep 05, 2013, 05:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Sept. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- It's that time of year. Schools are starting, there is crispness in the air as summer fades away and there are new television shows and returning favorites about to air. What show are people looking forward to seeing? What actors are getting people's attention? What types of shows do people like to watch? Well, two in four Americans (39%) count comedies or sitcoms among their two favorite types of shows, while one-third (32%) say detective or crime shows are among their favorites. About one-quarter each say news (24%) and drama (23%) are favorite types of shows, while for 19% it is a reality or competition show and 17% turn to sci-fi or fantasy.


These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,286 adults surveyed online between August 14 and 19, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full results, including full actor and show lists, available here)

Favorite current television show
Sheldon Cooper or Leroy Jethro Gibbs? Penny and Leonard or "Tiva"? Imagine the pitch meeting as the creators of The Big Bang Theory pitched their idea of a sitcom about 4 very smart physicists and a sexy waitress/actress. Who would have thought that as the show approached its seventh season it would be America's favorite current television show, followed by another long-time television staple that is about to lose one of its leads, NCIS. And when it comes to favorites among different groups, whether it is by gender, age, region or education, the favorite is consistently either NCIS (among Women, Baby Boomers and Matures, Southerners and Westerners, and those with a high school degree or less and those with a post graduate degree) or The Big Bang Theory (Men, Echo Boomers and Gen Xers, Easterners and Midwesterners, and those with some college or a college degree).

Looking at the rest of America's favorite shows, the rest of the top five are all long-running crime/detective shows. At number three is Criminal Minds, followed by CSI and then Law and Order SVU. Next are two cable television shows: Breaking Bad, which is ending its run this season, and the reality show Duck Dynasty. Two comedies and a crime show round out the top ten – Family Guy, Modern Family and Person of Interest.

The upcoming season
Which shows have the potential to be new favorites as the season gets underway? When presented with a list of 13 shows that will debut in the next few weeks, half of Americans who watch television (48%) say they are not at all sure which one they are most looking forward to watching, showing that there is still a sense of the unknown. But a few shows rise to the top, as over one in ten say Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (16%), The Michael J. Fox Show (15%) and Sleepy Hollow (12%) are ones they are most looking forward to watching. Just under one in ten say they are most looking forward to The Crazy Ones (9%) and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (7%).

One thing the new television season is bringing is a lot of actors' returns to the small screen. Among a list of 12 returning actors, when asked which are among those they're most excited about seeing again, two are clear favorites as four in ten say Robin Williams (39%), who is coming back in The Crazy Ones, and three in ten say Michael J. Fox (30%) coming back in his self-titled show. Vampires beware: Buffy herself is also returning, and one in ten are excited that Sarah Michelle Gellar (10%) is coming back to television, albeit as Robin Williams's daughter.

Pining for the past
For every actor returning, there is one people wish would come back. He played the TV dad Americans want to have, and for one-quarter of Americans who watch television (26%) he's the former star they would like to see come back to TV. Just over one in five say they would like to see Jennifer Anniston return (22%), while just under that would like to see Jerry Seinfeld (18%) come back to TV. Two very funny men round out the top five actors people would like to see return to television – Steve Carell (16%) and Bob Newhart (11%).

Everyone has that one show they wish wasn't cancelled and would come back. For 22% of television watchers, even though reruns are plentiful, they just want new episodes of Law & Order, while 18% want the show about nothing, Seinfeld, to return. Just under one in five (17%) want to know what happened after Rachel got off that plane and Monica and Chandler moved to the suburbs in Friends, while 15% want to see what other sweaters Cliff Huxtable had in his closet on The Cosby Show.

The bigger picture
Something that shocked many people when the Emmy nominations were announced was that not only were there were no major network shows in the best drama category but, for the first time, one never even aired on any station – network or cable. Besides the streaming show, one is from PBS, two are from pay cable stations and two from basic cable. Is this the death of network TV? American TV viewers think not. Four in five (80%) agree that no matter what, there will always be network television, with almost half (47%) strongly agreeing. But, over half also agree that the shows on cable television are better than network television (57%) and that they find themselves watching more and more cable and less network television (57%).

When it comes to types of cable shows, there is a divide. Four in ten television watchers (41%) agree that the shows on pay cable (e.g. HBO, Showtime) are better than basic cable (FX, AMC, TLC) shows, while 45% disagree. Looking to what could be the future, one-third of television watchers (32%) say they find themselves watching more and more television via streaming.

To see the full lists of actors and shows and other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 14 to 19, 2013 among 2,286 adults (aged 18 and over). 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.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

Q805, 810, 815, 820, 825, 828, 830

The Harris Poll® #60, September 5, 2013
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive
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