May 10, 1998

Mixed Reaction to Post-Seinfeld Era

Fans Say Yada Yada

Survey Findings

The situation comedy “Seinfeld” may be the most popular television show of its time, but only half of the people who watch it say they’ll miss it when it’s gone. And even fewer want friends like Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer.

Today, 62% of the public says they watch the program, and, at least for now, “Seinfeld” tops the list of all-time favorite comedy programs. In a new Pew Research Center survey, 14% of Americans name the show as their favorite. M*A*S*H ranks second with 6%.

The tearful farewells fans gave other popular sitcoms, however, are unlikely to follow the “Seinfeld” finale: 51% of viewers say they won’t miss the show much. Only 19% of “Seinfeld” viewers say they will miss the show a great deal, another 29% will miss it a fair amount.

Just as the sitcom’s trademark indifference is mirrored in these findings, “Seinfeld” viewers reflect the characters: Fans are young, affluent and single. Fully 81% of those under age 30 watch the show compared to just 34% of those over 65; 71% of those earning more than $75,000 tune in compared to 52% of those with incomes under $20,000; and 71% of single people watch the show versus 59% of married folks. But despite these similarities, 54% of viewers say they would not want friends like the sitcom characters.

The public may be ambivalent about a friend exploding through the front door and raiding the fridge, but Kramer is the show’s most popular character. With 44% of those who watch “Seinfeld” picking him as their favorite, Kramer comes out ahead in virtually every demographic group. Jerry comes in second with 18% naming the lead character as their favorite, George is picked by 11% and Elaine by 10%. Kramer is also the character fans would like to see spinoff a new series, with 33% saying they would like to see him featured in a new show.

Of the 1,009 randomly selected adults reached by phone May 1-5, three people said Newman should get his own show. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 %.