People in This State Spend About Half the Day Watching TV

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The amount of time people watch television per day varies substantially by state. So does the type of programming they watch. A new study shows that the state that tops TV watching time is West Virginia, where the total time per day is four and a half hours. No other state breaks the four-hour mark. West Virginia, incidentally, is the poorest state in America.

Researchers at a unit of Verizon called VerizonSpecials used the 2017 American Time Use Survey’s “TV watch-time data” section to determine the hours and minutes by day by state. They used Google Trends to determine the type of show most watched by state.

West Virginia’s most popular type of show was soap operas, which was the case in three states among the top 10 ranked by viewing time. In three other states in the top 10 ranked by time per day, the most popular type of show was sitcoms. The program category types used across all 50 states for measurement were:

  1. Soap opera
  2. Reality TV
  3. Animated cartoon
  4. Sitcom
  5. Cooking show
  6. Late-night TV
  7. ESPN
  8. Children’s TV
  9. Spanish-language telenovela


Telenovela shows were the most watched type in Florida and Texas. Several of the shows with the greatest television finales are sitcoms.

The researchers used some quirky measures to illustrate the amount of time people watch TV by state. For example, the authors wrote: “West Virginians watch TV an average of 4.5 hours a day, adding up to 1,642.5 hours a year. In that amount of time, you could watch all eight seasons of Friends 13 times.”

Ranked behind West Virginia, which posted a watching time per day of four hours, 30 minutes and 54 seconds, was Delaware at second with a time of 3:47:09 and reality TV as the most watched category. Louisiana ranked third at 3:41:20, with soap operas as the top category. Oklahoma, where animated cartoons were the top-ranked category, came in fourth at 3:36:34. Nevada ranked fifth, with the time per day of 3:34:53. Reality TV was the most watched category in the state.

The state where people watched the least TV was Utah, were the time per day was 2:13:55, about half the time of West Virginia. The top category in Utah was animated cartoons. Behind Utah on the least TV watched per day list was Maine at 2:17:37. The most watched type of TV in Maine was cooking shows. Ranked third on the list of states where people watch the least TV per day, Vermont came in at 2:19:43, with late-night TV at the top of the list for program type. In fourth place, Alaska had a daily watching time of 2:20:24, with soap operas as the most popular. In fifth place, Colorado had a time of 2:28:22, with news as the top category.

What was the most popular programming type across the 50 states and the District of Columbia? According to Verizon: “‘Sitcom’ is the most popular TV genre in the US. Nine states—and Washington, D.C.—prefer these short comedies over any other category.”

A look at all 50 states:

State Avg. Time Per Day Favorite TV Genre
Utah 2:13:55 Animated Cartoon
Maine 2:17:37 Cooking Show
Vermont 2:19:43 Late-Night Talk Show
Alaska 2:20:24 Soap Opera
Colorado 2:28:22 News
Hawaii 2:32:58 News
Minnesota 2:33:50 Sitcom
Washington 2:35:15 News
Montana 2:36:39 News
California 2:39:03 News
Wisconsin 2:39:09 ESPN
New Hampshire 2:40:22 Children’s TV Series
Connecticut 2:41:03 Sitcom
Oregon 2:46:23 Animated Cartoon
Rhode Island 2:47:26 Reality TV
North Carolina 2:50:50 Soap Opera
New Mexico 2:52:06 Animated Cartoon
New York 2:52:31 Daytime TV
Maryland 2:53:23 Reality TV
Virginia 2:54:03 Reality TV
Kansas 2:56:30 ESPN
Tennessee 2:56:36 Reality TV
Idaho 2:56:41 Cooking Show
Washington, D.C. 2:57:09 Sitcom
Arizona 2:57:36 News
Massachusetts 2:57:52 Children’s TV Series
Nebraska 2:59:41 ESPN
South Dakota 3:02:21 Children’s TV Series
Michigan 3:02:22 Sitcom
Missouri 3:02:37 Sitcom
Indiana 3:04:35 Sitcom
Texas 3:04:35 Telenovela
Iowa 3:07:56 ESPN
Illinois 3:08:03 Sitcom
Pennsylvania 3:13:50 Reality TV
Wyoming 3:14:32 News
Ohio 3:19:40 ESPN
New Jersey 3:19:55 Reality TV
Kentucky 3:21:29 ESPN
Florida 3:21:39 Telenovela
South Carolina 3:22:23 Soap Opera
Arkansas 3:24:52 Sitcom
Georgia 3:26:29 Reality TV
Alabama 3:27:25 Sitcom
Mississippi 3:29:20 Soap Opera
North Dakota 3:34:29 Sitcom
Nevada 3:34:53 Reality TV
Oklahoma 3:36:34 Animated Cartoon
Louisiana 3:41:20 Soap Opera
Delaware 3:47:09 Reality TV
West Virginia 4:30:54 Soap Opera
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