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ANDREA SEABROOK, host:

Political campaigns are always trying to figure out which messages push your buttons, and now, they're paying attention to the buttons on your remote control. The folks at Nielsen, the TV ratings company, just released a potentially valuable study for political advertisers. David Marans is an executive vice president with Nielsen Research Group, IAG.

Mr. DAVID MARANS (Executive Vice President, Nielsen Research Group, IAG): We usually take a look at this information based on, like, adults 18 to 49. Why don't we take a look and see if Democrats and Republicans, if their engagement with shows are different?

SEABROOK: Their engagement. Not how many people watch a show, but who and how much they're in to it? Nielsen asked self-described Democrats and Republicans how much they remembered about the shows they watched the night before. The results, well, take, Comedy Central. If you are a Republican, your engagement is much stronger with "South Park."

(Soundbite of "South Park")

Unidentified Man #1: The founding founders what you all to know that we can disagree all we want as long as we agree that America kicks ass.

SEABROOK: Well, the Democrats prefer this.

Mr. STEPHEN COLBERT (Host, the Colbert Report): The number one threat to America, Larry Flynt, who has crossed the line with his new porn video, "Who's Nailin' Paylin?"

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: That's "The Colbert Report."

Mr. COLBERT: It won't be long before we see a porno about the Democratic candidate, Who's Ridin' Biden?

SEABROOK: OK. No real surprise there, but what about the Discovery Channel. The game show, "Cash Cab," where contestants win money while rolling through the streets of New York City?

(Soundbite of "Cash Cab")

Mr. BEN BAILEY (Host, Cash Cab): Welcome to the Cash Cab. It's the only game show to take place right here on this taxi.

(Soundbite of a woman screaming)

SEABROOK: And "The Deadliest Catch" about the perilous work of king crab fisherman.

(Soundbite of "The Deadliest Catch")

Unidentified Man #2: The fishing vessel, Ocean Challenger, has radioed a mayday. A coast guard rescue helicopter launches from Cold Bay, Alaska.

SEABROOK: The red state Alaska versus blue state New York, which do you think scored the highest among Democrats and Republicans?

Mr. MARANS: Ironically, "Deadliest Catch," which you would think might be more attractive to a Republican constituency, the Democrats. And "Cash Cab," located, shall we say, in a quite urban environment, was number one on Discovery among Republicans. So, maybe both sides wanted to pay a lot of attention to what the other world is doing.

SEABROOK: Now, you want to know the really juicy parts of the Nielsen reports? Which shows those undecided voters are watching? Well, Maran ain't talking about that. That, you'll have to pay for.

Mr. MARAN: You know, I'm sure that the folks who are running the McCain-Obama and other campaigns are very interested in reaching their targets.

SEABROOK: Sounds like Nielsen is playing the campaigns for big money.

(Soundbite of "Cash Cab")

Mr. BAILEY: That's right, and he's won another $50 in the Cash Cab.

(Soundbite of people cheering)

SEABROOK: Go to our website to see the Nielsen study and weigh in on why we watch what we watch. It's at our website npr.org.

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