In the beginning, clickers were a man thing.
Surveys in the early 1990s found that in about two-thirds of American households, men basically had seized the remotes.
"Males don't want to know what's on," one researcher quipped. "They want to know what else is on."
Whatever the reason, 98 percent of wives responding to a Consumer Reports survey in 1992 said they'd had tiffs with remote-hogging husbands. Only 17 percent of husbands logged that gripe.
Women since have gained near parity in controlling the clicker, reports James Willi, president of Audience Research & Development LLC, of Dallas, a leading TV consulting firm. Some wrested the devices from their men, says Willi, but more women are watching separate TVs.
So are young adults ages 18 to 24, half of whom say they're as happy channel-surfing as watching one show. That's a taste only 17 percent of adults older than 50 share.
Net effect, according to Willi: Clickers boost TV sales but depress family-room attendance.