What You See Is All There Is: RedZone, NCIS & Big Bang Theory Edition



Our brains play tricks on us and one of them is thinking we ought to be able to extrapolate what is going on around us to mean the same thing is happening everywhere else.

Such extrapolations can be folly, but we’re human and do it anyway which results in some people thinking Red Zone must be a huge factor in the declining NFL ratings because “ME AND EVERYONE I KNOW ONLY WATCH NFL ON RED ZONE!” 

Me and everyone I know pretty much do only watch RedZone. I drank the RedZone Kool Aid (Scott Hanson version) long ago. But props to Tony Romo who has managed to get me to cheat on Scott for an hour here and there this season.

I haven’t seen any ratings for Red Zone this season, but as of last season, me and everyone I know were definitely not representative of how most people watch the NFL.

Because I don’t see data regularly and because the Red Zone isn’t measured nationally (I only saw #s for the largest 56 out of 210 markets for RedZone) it’s hard to be precise. But in very round numbers, of the people watching NFL from 1:00-7:30PM ET, around 5% watched on Red Zone and 95% watched some other way.

Unless things changed dramatically in the past year “Me and everyone I know” are still a minority when it comes to RedZone. Dramatic change seems unlikely, but I will try to track some #s down for this season.

It’s not just a RedZone thing either.

I see plenty of “How can NCIS and The Big Bang Theory possibly be the most-watched drama and most-watched comedy? I don’t watch them and nobody I know* watches them!”

Nonetheless, Mark Harmon & Kaley Cuoco are getting paid.

If it makes you feel any better you and everyone you know are always in the majority when it comes to NOT watching a TV show on TV. No telecast besides the Super Bowl reaches even 50% of the U.S. population.

What you see is not all there is!

“What you see is all there is” and the “availability heuristic” are just frameworks for seeing how our brains do us dirty that were created by the brilliant Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. I find them pretty useful frameworks in the above examples.

Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in economics for their work in 2002 and if learning about how your brain will play tricks on you is of interest, I can’t recommend Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow” enough.

*Peter Schrager is a big fan of The Big Bang Theory. If you know him, you know someone who watches The Big Bang Theory.


This article has 2 Comments

  1. Sometimes I show IndyCar highlights to friends and family here in Uruguay. Then I ask “how many TV viewers did this race had in the United States?”.

    They would say 50 million, rather than 4 million for the Indy 500 and 50k for NBCSN broadcasts.

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