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Most popular TV genres in the U.S. 2017

In the United States, the most popular television programs are by far those within the drama category. A 2017 study showed that 33 percent of primetime TV programs were drama shows, almost double the share of comedy or reality programs.

What affects genre preferences?

An interesting way in which the popularity of a genre can change is looking at data pertaining to a viewer’s age. A 2018 survey revealed that whilst 92 percent of U.S. adults considered drama TV shows to be very or somewhat favorable, the genre was much less popular among 18 to 29-year-olds. In fact, favorability of drama TV shows decreased with age, whereas with the horror genre the opposite was the case, with favorability dropping significantly among older respondents. Reality TV was considered the least favorable among all age groups, and the top terms used to describe reality TV were ‘fake’, ‘trashy’ and ‘meaningless’.

Another factor which has the potential to affect a TV viewer’s preferences is episode length. For TV dramas, 60 minutes was the preferred episode length, with viewers overwhelmingly citing a show lasting an hour as being preferable to one lasting 30, 90 or 120 minutes.

Genre breakdown of the top 250 TV programs in the United States in 2017

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Release date

October 2017


United States

Survey time period

January 2 to August 6, 2017

Age group

2 years and older

Special properties

ad-supported cable & english broadcast

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