Viewership Deep Dive: How Audiences of Hit Animated TV Shows Compare

In the just over 29 years since The Simpsons arrived on TV, we’ve seen a sustained boom in animated comedy shows geared toward teens and adults. We decided to examine the audiences of not only Matt Groening’s classic creation, but other Fox animated hits Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy and American Dad, which now airs on TBS — plus, for good measure, Comedy Central’s South Park. To do so, we turned to Inscape, the TV data company with glass-level insights from a panel of more than 10 million smart TVs, to get the insights. The date range for everything below is Jan. 1, 2018 through the present.

First, a look at audience crossover among all of the shows. A note about methodology: You have to do more than just flip past a station with your remote to count as a “crossover viewer” in Inscape’s system. For the data below, the minimum viewing threshold is 10 minutes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is fairly high crossover among many of the series, although it’s interesting to note high levels of Family Guy crossover with the other shows, compared to slightly lower levels with The Simpsons. A whopping 78% of American Dad viewers have also watched Family Guy, although it’s less in reverse: half of Family Guy fans have tuned into American Dad. Also, 71% of Bob’s Burgers watchers have seen Family Guy.

On the flip side of things, South Park has a generally lower level of crossover, bottoming out with The Simpsons (23%), followed by Bob’s Burgers (27%). One explanation could be that it’s arguably edgier than the other shows (and thus perhaps has less mass-market appeal) as well as airing on a cable/pay channel.

When it comes to other shows watched by these audiences, the long-canceled Futurama tops the list (these days it’s syndicated on Syfy), followed by The Office (also in syndication) and NFL post-game show The OT.

We also examined timeshifting trends for each of the series. Of particular interest is that for each of the Fox shows, generally the more episodes a viewer has watched, the more likely they are to timeshift — and OTT viewing is also higher than we’ve seen in past analysis of other TV shows overall. For example, here’s a look at the Family Guy timeshifting trends:

South Park presents a bit differently, with DVR 1-3 timeshifting happening most often when someone has watched three to five episodes.