Ratings giant Nielsen has published some interesting television audience numbers for last month, The firm has calculated that the storm of January 10-13, 2011 was the most impactful storm on television viewing in recent history.

It seems that in addition to dumping record-breaking amounts of snow and ice across the United States, the nationwide blizzards and snowstorms also deposited an unusually large numbers of viewers, especially kids and teens, in front of their TV sets.

Nielsen reports that total national television viewing during the storm increased by 8% versus the prior year, about a third higher than the average increase in viewing from the last four major storms.

The increased viewership was attributable primarily to kids and teens staying home from school. Viewing by children 2-11 was up by 18%, and teens were up by 15%.

The largest growth in audience occurred in the Southeast, which saw a 16% lift overall and increases of 34% for kids and 18% for teens. Nielsen postulates that since this is a region that isn’t used to dealing with snow, it’s likely that children in this area didn’t have the clothes or equipment to go play outdoors so they stayed indoors and watched the tube.

Other regions also saw substantial increases in viewing, especially from kids or teens. The only region to not experience an increase in viewing was the Pacific region. The breadth of this storm was the key reason that it resulted in such a large increase in TV viewing, more than previous winter storms which affected mostly the Northeastern part of the country.

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