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Labor Intensive

Like any holiday, Labor Day weekend would seem to be one of the year’s low points for television viewership, with Americans forsaking the Jerry Lewis telethon to savor the final moments of summer.

For most part, that’s true. The first three days of the weekend—Friday, Saturday and Sunday—draw far fewer viewers compared to the weekends before and after Labor Day, according to Turner Research data for 1999-2003. (Stats for 2004 were unavailable due to Hurricane Frances.)

Yet the Monday holiday itself sees huge audience increases versus the same day one week before and after—19% more viewers and 26% more 25- to 54-year-old viewers in total day viewing. As they prepare to send the kids off to school or trudge back to work on Tuesday, Americans are apparently content to park on the couch in front of movie marathons and the last gasp of summer’s original series (like the Sept. 5 finale of TNT’s The Closer.)

Final results for Labor Day weekend viewership could be much different this year, due to news coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Many viewers surely tuned in for something rarely seen on holiday program schedules: Endless tragedy.