According to HGTV, viewers in their target demographic watch the network for an average of two hours and 14 minutes per sitting. But why? What is it about HGTV that makes it so compulsively watchable? While TNT can run all the Law and Order marathons it wants, Home and Garden Television is the new home of procedural TV.
According to Nielsen, HGTV has one of the most affluent viewerships in extended cable, regularly dominating what’s referred to as “Upscale” viewers with household incomes over $125,000 (47 percent of their total viewership has an income above $75,000). More than that, 75 percent of the total viewers are already homeowners. So HGTV’s is a uniquely well-off viewership, but it’s also a uniquely committed, or, perhaps, compelled viewership. Either way, that’s a lot of House Hunters for people who already own houses.
A few months ago, Jen Doll wrote about the tireless appeal of House Hunters in particular. For Doll, the show is all about the “underlying theme of unbridled domestic aspiration paired with the reality of compromise, the appearance versus the actuality of what we want and what we can have.” Much of the network’s marquee programming beyond House Hunters is about trading up, re-investment, buying, and selling. HGTV, as we might expect, is so watchable because it features attainably realistic ritual re-enactments of the American Dream every half-hour. […]