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Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

January 8, 2013 at 8:14 PM

This Sunday, will you be watching Seahawks or Downton Abbey — or both?

A lot of guys are gearing up for a day of great TV this Sunday as the Seahawks take on the Falcons in the NFL playoffs. Of course, some women will be cheering, too, but not nearly as many. According to Scarborough market-research data, more than twice as many Seattle-area men as women follow the Seahawks.

But that doesn’t mean that a lot of women aren’t counting the days until Sunday, too. Sure, they might stay out of the house during the game, but come nightfall, the ladies will commandeer TV sets across the Puget Sound. That’s when PBS airs the hit dramatic series “Downton Abbey.” Naturally, plenty of men like the show too, but 60 percent of PBS drama fans in the Seattle area are women.

When it comes to Seahawks football, our fans might be some of the most diehard…but in sheer numbers, they don’t stack up too well against other U.S. cities.  When surveyed, a little more than 23 percent of Seattle-area folks say they are rabid NFL fans.  By that measure, we only rank 63rd out of 77 major U.S. markets, and about 18 percent below the national average.  Ouch.

But when the Seahawks are winning, we flock to the couches. Nielsen numbers for Sunday’s win over the Redskins show that three out of four people watching TV in the Seattle area had the game on.

Folks who love PBS dramas are better represented in the Seattle area than Seahawks fans.  Our metro ranks 24th in the country for the percentage of the population who are devoted to PBS dramas.  That’s about 7 percent above the national average.  But it seems that we might love Downton Abbey more than anything else on PBS; for the premiere of the show’s third season last Sunday, Seattle had the highest local-market rating in the country.

There are some sharp differences between Seattle’s two Sunday TV brigades, as the chart to the right illustrates.  And it makes sense — who would want to kick back with a Bud for an installment of a post-Edwardian-era dramatic series?  Yes, PBS watchers are predictably Anglophile.  They vacation far more in the U.K. than on a warm sunny Hawaiian beach — apparently, they don’t they get enough rain at home.  And while Seahawks fans tune into KOMO for their news updates, Downton Abbey fans like to hear their news delivered with the accent they love, with the BBC on KUOW.

Football fans and PBS drama fans both are excited for Sunday.  But you know who is doubly excited?  There are actually many who will be glued to their TV sets from morning to night — that rare breed who are both Seahawks and genteel British drama lovers.  Yes, there are 108,000 folks in the Seattle area who are torn between these two seemingly incompatible loves.  If a Seahawks game and a PBS Jane Austen adaptation aired at the same time, you would find them flipping back and forth between channels.

How about you?  What will you be watching Sunday?  Take our poll, and feel free to sound off in the comments.

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