When attending cocktail parties packed with TV industry suits, are you often left wondering why there is so much talk about huts?
In TV-speak, HUTs means Homes Using Television. HUT levels are the percentage of TV homes watching television on a given night.
HUTs are a network executive's best friend.
HUTs take the fall for the networks' failures to get an audience on certain nights of the week or at certain times of the year.
"Well, you know, HUT levels are lowest on Saturday night," a network suit will say at one of those parties, throwing up whichever of his manicured hands isn't holding his apple-tini.
It's true: For many seasons the HUT level has been lowest on Saturday night, followed closely by Friday. This past season, for instance, only 54.7 percent of U.S. TV homes were using their televisions on Saturday night, compared with 64.7 percent on Monday nights -- the night with the highest HUT level for many seasons.
HUTs also take the rap for the networks' failure to stop the hemorrhaging of viewers during summer.
HUT levels are at their lowest during the summer and at their highest in the winter, explaining why the "official" TV season starts in September, while reruns rule in June and July.
Next time, go ahead and jump into the conversation; try arguing that maybe HUT levels are lowest on Friday and Saturday nights because viewers got out of the habit of watching TV those nights, because the networks didn't do a good job programming those nights. Maybe throw in that CBS ran "All in the Family" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" successfully on Saturday nights way back in the '70s, ditto NBC and "Golden Girls" in the '80s.
But stop short of speculating that Saturday night might have the week's highest HUT level if only ABC's "Monday Night Football" were ABC's "Saturday Night Football," and "Everybody Loves Raymond," "CSI: Miami," "Fear Factor" and "Las Vegas" also aired that night. And do yourself a favor -- don't mention that HUT level declines didn't prevent the stunning summer premieres of "Survivor" and "American Idol."
That will only cause the exec to pat you on the head patronizingly and high-tail it for the sushi bar.