Why Cable TV Is Crushing the Networks at 10 p.m.

The evidence speaks for itself

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Network television is getting slaughtered by cable in the 10 p.m. timeslot, reports The New York Times. Gone are the days when ABC's NYPD Blue and NBC's L.A. Law ruled the roost. According to the Times, the networks continue to lose viewers to cable, especially in the most lucrative 18-49 year-old market.

Cable's major 10 p.m. breadwinners include MTV's Jersey Shore, the History Channel's Pawn Stars, BET's The Game and Comedy Central's Tosh.0.

And it's no accident.

“You go where the competition ain’t,” said an MTV president to the Times. Since the late '90s, cable channels began to see inroads for the 10 p.m. slot when the networks scheduled local news or staid crime dramas. That's when MTV began airing its best content during its much-advertised "Ten Spot." Slowly but surely, edgier programming began luring younger viewers away from the networks.

But maybe this is best represented by a visual comparison. On Thusdays at 10 p.m., Jersey Shore hauls in six million viewers in the 18-49 demo. On the same day in the same slot, CBS's The Mentalist brings in a mere 3.8 million viewers in the 18-49 demo. Why do you think that is?

How 'bout another comparison? On Wednesdays, Comedy Central's web-video fest Tosh.0 squares off with NBC's Law & Order SVU. Can you guess which brings in more young viewers?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.