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They’re Not Afraid of the Dark

Related: The Top Networks of 2014 in Primetime Among Millennials

Related: Television Fare for Millennials: Shows To Entertain, Engage…and Transport

Related: Chaos Theory

The Walking Dead. Game of Thrones. House of Cards. Pretty Little Liars. These are shows that have captured the ever-elusive eyeballs of the millennial demographic in recent years. But for any programming exec looking to bottle the formula, what do they all have in common? They are, in a word, dark. The leads are often antiheroes who are temperamental, pessimistic, flawed, sometimes violent and generally complex.

A recent Investigation Discovery-commissioned report on the dark side of television drama concludes that millennials in particular are drawn to post-apocalyptic shows, as well as series that feature conflicted and flawed leaders and heroes. That helps to explain why The Walking Dead is the most watched series on cable and broadcast among persons 18-49 and millennials 18-34. In addition to their love for dark scripted programming, this is a group that is far less likely to watch TV in real time, unless it’s a live event.

In these charts, Ratings Intelligence analyzes the most popular shows and networks among the millennial set. What type of content is drawing the 20- and early 30-somethings to tune in? Is it dark drama? Sports? Awards shows? Here is a deep dive into the viewing habits of linear TV-hungry millennials—and yes, they actually do exist.