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Boys Are Back in TV Town

Young men are back watching broadcast television because the networks have lured them back, concluded TV analyst Steve Sternberg, executive vice president and director of audience analysis at MAGNA Global USA.

When the elusive male 18-24 demo was down 9% at the beginning of the 2003 fall season, many of the networks pointed fingers at Nielsen.

But the broadcast nets ended up helping themselves with such shows as NBC's The Apprentice and Fox's My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, according to Sternberg, and usage in the demo is about back where it started last year before the dip.

Still, the networks continue to decline in overall audiences, while cable picks off viewers, particularly younger ones, by airing more original series such as FX's Nip/Tuck, Spike's Joe Schmo (1 not 2), ESPN's World Series of Poker and Comedy Central's Reno 911, says Sternberg.

"The days when viewers will watch whatever 'least objectionable programming' is offered are long over," Sternberg writes. "There are simply too many options available today. Our original conclusion, 'it's the programming, stupid,' seems just as true now as at the start of the season, and nothing more than a statement of the obvious."