Add this to your list of times when assumptions are knocked out by market research — viewers of Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart have more education and political knowledge than viewers of Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor. Daily Show viewers also report higher incomes.

Bill O’Reilly recently called Jon Stewart’s viewers “stoned slackers”. His O’Reilly Factor is the top-ranked news show in the United States. Bill O’Reilly has worked in journalism for 30 years, and holds masters degrees from Boston University and Harvard, as well as an honorary doctorate from Marist College.

Comedian Jon Stewart, who holds a degree from the College of William and Mary, was best known for his roles in Big Daddy and The Larry Sanders Show before taking over the news satire anchor position at The Daily Show in 1999.

During the Republican National Convention, more people tuned into The Daily Show for Bush’s speech than CNN or MSNBC.* However, Fox News attracted twice as many viewers as The Daily Show did.

This just goes to show that a little market research can dispel seemingly accurate assumptions about markets. Existing advertisers on The Daily Show and O’Reilly Factor may tweak their messaging to better meet audience demographics. New advertisers may emerge, while others depart. However, given that Daily Show viewers are still overwhelmingly young, it’s unlikely that advertisers will march over from O’Reilly Factor. Market research can help blow away assumptions, but success still comes down to target markets, positioning and delivery.

(c) 2004 by Andrea Coutu. Vancouver Marketing Consultant. All rights reserved.

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