MSN TV Blog - TV Buzz

TV's richest and poorest shows

From 'Modern Family' to 'Bob's Burgers,' a look at average viewers' median incomes by show

By MSN TV Partner Nov 13, 2013 10:09AM

'Modern Family'/ABC

By Tony Maglio


The Dunphys of "Modern Family" might not eat at "Bob's Burgers" -- and fans of the shows might not eat at the same restaurants, either.


Bing: More about 'Modern Family' | 'Bob's Burgers'


The two comedies are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their average viewers' median incomes. The median "Modern Family" viewer in the 18-49 demographic rake in $81,100 annually, according to Nielsen data. "Bob's Burgers" watchers in the demo, on the

other hand, earn around $48,000 per year.


More from The Wrap: Why 'SNL' May Never Be This White Again


Neither are particularly rich or poor -- but the ratings company carefully tracks even minor differences in wealth because advertisers want to wring out as much as they can from the people who watch their shows.


TheWrap found the gap between ABC's "Modern Family" and FOX's "Bob's Burgers" by looking at Nielsen's average median income of prime-time viewers this season for the four biggest broadcast networks -- not including sports, specials, or awards ceremonies.


In second place in terms of wealth are viewers of NBC's "Parks and Recreation," who have a median income of $81,000 per year. Fans of CBS' "The Amazing Race" are third, with a salary of $75,700.


That means ABC, NBC and CBS are sharing the wealth with the top three shows, which also happen to be critical darlings.


"It's not too surprising that higher income viewers are more likely to watch programs that are critically acclaimed and contenders for industry awards like the Golden Globes and Emmys," Brad Adgate, senior vice president of Research at Horizon Media, told TheWrap.


Advertisers focus on the 18-49 demo because they hope to land lifelong customers early. But people tend to hit their peak income in their mid-50s, Adgate said.


"If you have say a show that's really young and really upscale, then you have something," he said.


"The West Wing" had the highest median income Adgate could recall. Shows on cable, especially premium cable, and Netflix tend to have wealthier audiences -- since their viewers must be able to afford to watch them.


The new fall show with the highest median income is "The Goldbergs," at $73,900. "Very rarely does a first-year show command the ad value of a (longer-running) show," Adgate said.

Viewers of the doctor-centric "The Mindy Project" (right) have a median income of $73,800. Another medical drama, "Grey's Anatomy," may not have as many rich doctors among its fans -- it has a median viewer income of $70,500, putting it in 18th place.


"Mindy," which has the seventh-wealthiest audience, is FOX's top-ranker in terms of well-off viewers.


A little further down the list is "Shark Tank" -- a show about venture capitalists vying to invest in start-up companies. It's in 16th place with $70,800.


Now for the shows you probably shouldn't mention on a first date with a gold digger.

Animated shows -- including "The Simpsons," "Family Guy," "American Dad" and the aforementioned "Bob's Burgers" -- have among the least wealthy audiences. That makes sense, Adgate says, because cartoon viewers skew younger.


Other shows on the low end of the list are FOX's "Bones" ($56,600) and CBS's "Undercover Boss" -- a show in which well-off executives perform menial, low-paying but necessary tasks ($55,800). "America's Funniest Home Videos" viewers have a median income of $54,700.


Here are the top 10 TV shows with the highest median income in the key demo for the fall season so far:



And the least wealthy, from the bottom up:



Related stories from TheWrap:

Nielsen Taking Next Big Step to Incorporate Mobile-Device Viewing into TV Ratings

Network Execs Explain Which Ratings Matter — And Which Don't

17 Breakout Stars of the Fall TV Season

Feb 17, 2014 9:03AM
The Simpsons are on the poorest list??? WTF???!!! Love them!
Feb 16, 2014 8:27PM
Most people don't really understand TV. All businesses produce a product which they sell to customers. Most people tend to think that the TV is the producer, the show is the product and the viewer is the customer. With this mindset, it is impossible to understand what is going on. Here is the true relationship: The TV is the producer, the product is the audience and the customer is the advertiser who pays to buy the audience. The show is merely bait to attract the audience, which is then sold to the customer, the advertiser. It doesn't matter if the show is good, or crappy - only that it attracts an audience which interests the advertiser.
There is more to an income than what show you watch on TV. Age has a lot more to do with what you watch and what you income is..
Feb 7, 2014 5:53PM
Our household income is a good bit above the medians for the "rich" shows, but I'm more in tune with the "poor" show list. We're in our forties, so I guess that puts us outside the norm; right where anyone should want to be, if you ask us.
Feb 7, 2014 5:12PM
Nov 13, 2013 3:07PM

Wonder how this is going to affect Fox's Sunday night line-up?


Nov 13, 2013 3:07PM

What about  THE MILLERS? Funniest show on TV!!

Let us fans call the shots, this show is the best new comedy show in a long, long time.

Keep it going and get rid of Parks & Recreation (not funny at all, dump it along with Two and a Half men).

Nov 13, 2013 2:57PM
I was thinking the lowest income earners watch "Two Broke Girls" considering the show's title:)
Nov 13, 2013 2:13PM
I see a glaring omission here, and you know which show I'm talking about.
Nov 13, 2013 2:12PM
They are not saying what the Ads sell for ... nor do they take into consideration what is being advertised ... if your McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy ... Bobs Burger is great > well I presume, I have never seen it .... of all the shows listed on both list > I have only seen 5 of them and that is including 60 minutes
Nov 13, 2013 2:11PM
You need to make at least $48,800 to pay for the frickin cable bill.
Nov 13, 2013 2:08PM
I don't watch any of these shows except The Simpsons.  I love Mad Men and Gold Rush.  I recently started DVRing Guy's Grocery Games and it is a fun show to watch.  
Nov 13, 2013 1:56PM
criminal minds is a good show and so is csi they should bring csi Miami back
Nov 13, 2013 1:54PM
What's the income of your average Jerry Springer or Judge Mathis viewer? Do they even have an income?
Nov 13, 2013 1:53PM
I consistantly watch one show from each list...more seperating people into's not it will be what shows Jews, Asians, White's and Black's watch to seperate them from each other...
Nov 13, 2013 1:49PM
Two the best shows on TV, The Big Bang Theory and The Walking Dead aren't on either list.  What does that say about these stupid lists?
Nov 13, 2013 1:46PM
Bob's Burgers is awesome and I make $5/year.
Nov 13, 2013 1:33PM
Then show HOW MANY people watch this garbage, and NOT their wallet size.
Nov 13, 2013 1:27PM

Sooooo -- I guess the people who make six figures are either:


1) Watching Cable (not NBC, ABC, CBS, or FOX)

 -- or -- 

2) Not watching TV at all.

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