Why it matters: Americans used to have only a few TV options, leading to moments of mass culture like The Beatles’ appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” or the “M*A*S*H” finale. But just as the spread of social media jumpstarted political tribalization, the rise of cable and streaming services has necessitated a need for a wealth of content — increasingly targeted and niche — that has hastened a cultural splintering.
The state of play: That split is evidenced by the geographic schisms in Google interest in two programs — HBO’s “Succession” and USA’s “WWE Raw” — which both air weekly to similarly-sized audiences.
“Succession,” a comedy-drama about the machinations of the ultra-rich family running a media conglomerate, kicked off its second season this month with constant coverage in the country’s papers of record (see: “The Making of Wealth Porn”) and a slew of awards nominations. Its search interest is highest on the coasts and in the priciest cities in the U.S., like New York and San Francisco.
Meanwhile, “Raw,” the wrestling extravaganza in its 26th season, hasn’t had a mention in The New York Times in the past year, even as it had the second-most social media interactions per episode of any TV series in 2018, according to Nielsen. And its search interest is decidedly clustered in the Rust Belt and the South — in other words, prime Trump country.