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Tween and teen girls and TV

SmartGirl Internette, a New York-based company that conducts custom market research with preteen and teen girls, polled girls to find out what is reaching them, particularly on television. SmartGirl posted a survey in the S (Speak Out Chat Space) section of...
August 1, 1998

SmartGirl Internette, a New York-based company that conducts custom market research with preteen and teen girls, polled girls to find out what is reaching them, particularly on television. SmartGirl posted a survey in the S (Speak Out Chat Space) section of its Web site (www.smartgirl.com), and promoted the survey on other areas of the site. Responses were collected during the second week of June. Most respondents were located in the U.S., but SmartGirl also received responses from girls in other countries, including Canada, Ecuador, Singapore and Australia.

Girls’ TV viewing

Television is still a great way to reach preteen and teen girls-65% of girls surveyed (145 girls age 11 to 19) watch more than two hours a day.

5+ hours/day 15%

2 to 4 hours/day 50%

Around 1 hour/day 19%

A few hours/week 12%

A few hours/month 4%

Favorite shows

Girl-targeted shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch rank among girls’ favorites, but most preteen and teen girls are tuning in to programs aimed at boys as well as girls. These are the top picks of 197 girls age 11 to 19:

1 Dawson’s Creek 35%

2 Friends 26%

3 7th Heaven 17%

Tween and teen girls and TV

SmartGirl Internette, a New York-based company that conducts custom market research with preteen and teen girls, polled girls to find out what is reaching them, particularly on television. SmartGirl posted a survey in the S (Speak Out Chat Space) section of its Web site (www.smartgirl.com), and promoted the survey on other areas of the site. Responses were collected during the second week of June. Most respondents were located in the U.S., but SmartGirl also received responses from girls in other countries, including Canada, Ecuador, Singapore and Australia.

Girls’ TV viewing

Television is still a great way to reach preteen and teen girls-65% of girls surveyed (145 girls age 11 to 19) watch more than two hours a day.

5+ hours/day 15%

2 to 4 hours/day 50%

Around 1 hour/day 19%

A few hours/week 12%

A few hours/month 4%

Favorite shows

Girl-targeted shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch rank among girls’ favorites, but most preteen and teen girls are tuning in to programs aimed at boys as well as girls. These are the top picks of 197 girls age 11 to 19:

1 Dawson’s Creek 35%

2 Friends 26%

3 7th Heaven 17%

4 The Simpsons 16%

5 Buffy the Vampire Slayer 15%

6 Sabrina, The Teenage Witch 10%

7 Home Improvement 10%

8 Seinfeld 9%

9 The Real World 9%

10 Beverly Hills, 90210 9%

11 South Park 8%

12 Boy Meets World 8%

(Note: Figures add up to more than 100% because girls could provide more than one answer.)Girls’ comments on the top shows

It would be a big mistake to think of girls as a uniform group. Girls’ opinions about the top shows vary widely.

(Note: SmartGirl does not ask respondents for their names, in order to protect their privacy.)

Dawson’s Creek

‘Sometimes, I wish that they wouldn’t talk so much about sex. It’s not the only thing teens think about and do.’ 16, Swink, Colorado

‘I LOVE it!! It’s so good because you can relate to all of the actors SO much, and it’s just fun to watch. It’s a little bit too scripted though; they say what most people think of 10 minutes later.’ 15, Minneapolis, Minnesota

‘Dawson’s Creek is OK, but it is so far-fetched. It needs to be more into reality.’

18, Elmvale, Ontario, Canada

‘I love it! It’s VERY upfront and they don’t hide everything. It tells the truth about matters that parents don’t like to discuss.’ 14, Dayton, Ohio

The Simpsons

‘The Simpsons is brilliant and funny! The best lines come from Lisa’s mouth!’ 15, London, England

‘It’s funny because they act stupid and [because of] their weird lifestyles.’ 12, Honolulu, Hawaii

‘The Simpsons have had their run. South Park has taken over and the Simpsons need to be put to rest.’ 17, Decatur, Indiana

‘It’s one of my favorites. It makes fun of so many areas of life, so my entire family can watch this show and everyone laughs at something.’ 16, Iowa City, Iowa

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

‘It is OK, but really I don’t watch it too much. I guess I would like it more if there were people on the show to remind me of myself or someone I know!!’ 16, Augusta, Georgia

‘Too fake. All she does is kill vampires every episode. It SUCKS!’ 14, Lake Oswego, Oregon

‘[It's] fun, [has] lots of suspense and Angel is soo cute.’ 13, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

‘The total absurdity of monsters roaming the earth is entertaining. Buffy is like the teenage answer to cartoons. Everybody misses their childhood and the ability to pretend once in a while, and Buffy provides the insane fantasy world to retreat to. Also, just about every girl likes to see a girl being the strongest person. Buffy is able to outfight, outdress and outsmart any guy, girl or monster around.’ 17, Ashland, Ohio

South Park

‘I love it. It is hysterical. I have a 30-year-old brother who watches it. South Park is definitely the bomb! I have to get the tapes. I hope the writers keep up their crazy antics. But it could come on a little earlier, like 9:30, but no matter, as long as it’s on.’ 17, West Palm Beach, Florida

‘I hate it! It’s racist and stupid and not worth watching!’ 15, Kansas City, Missouri

‘It’s really funny and blunt. . . . I think some of the profanity could be edited out.’ 15, Arlington, Texas

‘It is fun to watch and talk about with my friends, even though it is mindless TV.’ 13, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

What girls think about shows for them

Girls were asked to choose one response for each show from a list that included seven options: ‘Love it!,’ ‘It’s OK if I’m bored,’ ‘Hate it!,’ ‘Too young for me,’ ‘Too old for me,’ ‘Never heard of it’ and ‘No answer.’

The group of 145 girls who answered the questions ranged in age from 11 to 19, and was split up into three subgroups: age 11 to 13 (49 girls), 14 to 16 (75 girls), and 17 to 19 (21 girls). The survey respondent pool SmartGirl chose to analyze was 74% American, 10% Canadian, and 15% from other countries, including Norway, Malaysia, the U.K., Singapore, Curacao, Ecuador and Australia. The panel is not representational, and because of the small number of respondents, data should be considered a guide only.

SmartGirl chose a rating of zero to four stars for each show based on girls’ responses to all seven options.

Beverly Hills, 90210-Two stars

Although the girls didn’t call this show ‘too young,’ the younger, the better for 90210. Across the whole age range, we had a tie: 28% loved it, 32% hated it and 30% will watch it if they’re bored. The younger group responded most often that they love it or will watch it if they’re bored. The middle age group was spread fairly evenly, but skewed toward dislike, and the oldest group tended to choose ‘Hate it!’

Buffy the Vampire Slayer-Three stars

Popular with a twist. 28% of girls loved it, and nearly as many found it OK to watch when they’re bored, but a full 19% of the girls hated the show. Many girls actually took offense to the show, calling it too ‘fake.’

Clueless-Three stars

Strong showing in the ‘It’s OK if I’m bored’ grouping. Hated by few, loved by many, good brand recognition, and all but the oldest group found the show appropriate for their age range (24% of girls 17 to 19 said the show was ‘Too young for me’).

Daria-Four stars

A winner. Although 19% of the girls had not heard of the show (it’s on cable), 47% loved the show, and only five percent hated it. This pattern repeated throughout all three age groups, and all the girls found Daria to be age-appropriate.

Dawson’s Creek-Four stars

Almost as popular as Daria, with better recognition, and a little backlash that resulted in nearly double the number of ‘Hate it!’ votes for Dawson’s Creek (nine percent) as those for Daria. SmartGirl recommends developing the girl characters more and laying off scenes exploring inappropriate student-teacher sexual tension, and we’ll have a solid winner.

Friends-Four stars

A winner. Strong brand recognition (only one percent of the girls had not heard of Friends). 60% loved the show, and only seven percent hated it. All but two girls (one percent) found Friends perfectly age-appropriate.

Melrose Place-One star

The show girls love to hate. Melrose Place garnered ‘Hate it!’ votes from 51% of the girls. Only eight percent thought the show was too old for them, so that’s no excuse. A fifth of the girls will watch it when they’re bored, and yes, 14% still think it’s great. Older girls, right? Nope. The youngest group was more fascinated with Melrose. Not a single girl age 17 to 19 loved Melrose Place.

Sabrina, The Teenage Witch-Four stars

A winner. Of the 92% of girls who didn’t find Sabrina too young for their tastes, the majority loved the show. The younger set was overwhelmingly positive, with 63% of them giving ‘Love it!’ votes. The middle age group was tied between loving it and finding it acceptable when bored, and no one from the older group hated the show. Name brand recognition was extremely high, as strong as the most recognized shows, which included Melrose Place and 90210.

Suddenly Susan-Three stars

Solidly middle of nowhere. The majority (41%) of the girls called it OK, if they were bored. But more of them liked it than hated it, which is more than 90210 can say. Age group seemed to make no difference, although more girls age 17 to 19 responded ‘It’s OK if I’m bored’ than the two younger age groups. Some girls in all age groups recognized the show as ‘Too old for me.’

Veronica’s Closet-Three stars

On par with Suddenly Susan, except 21% of the girls had not heard of it. More of the girls liked it than hated it, but the majority gave it a big fat ‘It’s OK if I’m bored.’

Age group No answer Too young Too old Never Love it! It’s OK if Hate it!

for me for me heard of it I’m bored

Beverly Hills, 90210

All ages 5% 1% 3% 1% 28% 30% 32%

11 to 13 6% 0% 6% 0% 29% 37% 22%

14 to 16 5% 0% 1% 3% 28% 29% 33%

17 to 19 0% 5% 0% 0% 29% 19% 48%

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

All ages 21% 0% 0% 7% 28% 26% 19%

11 to 13 24% 0% 0% 8% 35% 20% 12%

14 to 16 19% 0% 0% 8% 19% 33% 21%

17 to 19 19% 0% 0% 0% 43% 14% 24%

Clueless

All ages 6% 5% 0% 3% 25% 48% 14%

11 to 13 4% 2% 0% 2% 41% 45% 6%

14 to 16 8% 1% 0% 4% 19% 53% 15%

17 to 19 0% 24% 0% 5% 10% 33% 29%

Daria

All ages 8% 0% 0% 19% 47% 21% 5%

11 to 13 8% 0% 0% 14% 49% 24% 4%

14 to 16 7% 0% 0% 21% 47% 20% 5%

17 to 19 10% 0% 0% 24% 43% 19% 5%

Dawson’s Creek

All ages 25% 0% 1% 9% 41% 15% 9%

11 to 13 33% 0% 2% 2% 39% 14% 10%

14 to 16 19% 0% 0% 12% 44% 17% 8%

17 to 19 29% 0% 0% 14% 38% 10% 10%

Friends

All ages 6% 0% 1% 1% 60% 25% 7%

11 to 13 6% 0% 2% 4% 63% 20% 4%

14 to 16 7% 0% 1% 0% 61% 24% 7%

17 to 19 0% 0% 0% 0% 48% 38% 14%

Melrose Place

All ages 6% 0% 8% 1% 14% 20% 51%

11 to 13 8% 0% 12% 0% 16% 20% 43%

14 to 16 7% 0% 5% 1% 16% 21% 49%

17 to 19 0% 0% 10% 0% 0% 14% 76%

Sabrina, The Teenage Witch

All ages 2% 8% 0% 1% 46% 37% 6%

11 to 13 0% 6% 0% 2% 63% 22% 6%

14 to 16 3% 3% 0% 0% 44% 44% 7%

17 to 19 5% 33% 0% 0% 14% 48% 0%

Suddenly Susan

All ages 5% 1% 5% 12% 29% 41% 8%

11 to 13 10% 2% 4% 12% 29% 35% 8%

14 to 16 3% 0% 5% 13% 33% 39% 7%

17 to 19 0% 0% 5% 10% 14% 62% 10%

Veronica’s Closet

All ages 10% 1% 7% 21% 20% 32% 10%

11 to 13 12% 2% 8% 14% 24% 27% 12%

14 to 16 9% 0% 5% 24% 20% 32% 9%

17 to 19 5% 0% 10% 24% 10% 43% 10%

Most watched network or channel

MTV came out on top for teens and preteens (197 girls age 11 to 19).

1 MTV 27%

2 NBC 21%

3 ABC 15%

4 FOX 15%

5 WB 7%

6 Nickelodeon 4%

7 CBS 4%

8 UPN 3%

Incidental mentions: E!, BBC, Comedy Central, PBS, ATV, Global, VH1, Cartoon Network, BET, A&E, The History Channel, USA Network and Disney.

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