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NBC Study Finds College Students Like TV

September 18, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ NBC, in what may not prove a surprise, asserted Monday that college students like television.

The network also said college students are undercounted in the Nielsen ratings and would have a substantial impact in the Nielsens were they included in national audience estimates.

NBC’s conclusions were based on a telephone survey last spring of 1,014 students ages 18-24 at 50 four-year colleges and universities nationwide.

Among other things, the study found that 96 percent of the students it polled watch TV; they watch it 1.8 hours a day compared to the national viewing average of nearly seven hours; more males watch late-night TV than females, and the opposite is true for daytime soap operas.

NBC’s study was the latest in recent network efforts to study viewing audiences that traditionally haven’t been included in the national Nielsen audience estimates.

The national Nielsens only count viewers in homes, not in college dorms, hotel rooms, and such places as sports bars.

During the November ratings ″sweeps″ period, Nielsen Media Research, in a study commissioned by NBC, ABC and cable’s ESPN, will conduct a survey of such uncounted viewers, using diaries given to 6,000 people, according to Richard Montesano, an ABC research vice president.

The studies come at a time when the networks, losing audiences to cable, videocassette recorders and independent stations, are seeking ways to include hitherto uncounted TV viewers in national estimates - or at least convince advertisers that these viewers should be considered in their television time- buying plans.

NBC, whose spring survey focused only on college students, estimated that there are about 13 million college students - 8.5 million in the 18-to-24 age range - with spending power of $20 billion annually.

The NBC study, by Survey Design and Analysis of Ann Arbor, Mich., found that 83 percent of those it polled considered commercials a fair exchange for TV entertainment. It also found that 60 percent of the males polled watch late-night TV entertainment, as did 39 percent of the women polled.

But 63 percent of the women students polled said they watched daytime TV, compared with only 29 percent of the men.

As with the general public, television was the main source of news for the students polled; 43 percent said they got most of their news from television, compared to 27 percent who said they got it from newspapers.

They tended to trust TV news more, too. When asked which medium they would believe in the case of conflicting stories about a news event, 53 percent said television, while 36 percent said newspapers.

In entertainment matters, NBC’s survey showed six NBC programs among the 10 television shows most favored by the college students polled, with ″The Cosby Show″ at the top of the list and ″Late Night With David Letterman″ fifth.

The Letterman show was the only late-night program in the Top 10 list, which also included three ABC shows - ″thirtysomething,″ ″Growing Pains″ and ″Wonder Years.″ CBS’ durable ″Knots Landing″ was at the bottom of the list.

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