16 May 2010

Television executives define "really old"

Excerpts from a WaPo article about the Law and Order television series being discontinued:
In its heyday, "Law & Order" was an important tentpole on NBC's primetime lineup, averaging about 19 million viewers each week. These days, it's averaging around 7.3 million viewers. More problematic: the show's audience is very old. About 64 percent of the show's audience -- 4.7 million people -- are aged 50 and older.

This is important because NBC executives have steadfastly maintained for years that they do all their ad sales business according to how many 18-49 year olds their shows can deliver to advertisers. The network does not include in its sales pitches any viewer who is over the age of 49.
Personally, I think that's why network television has lost so many viewers (including me)


  1. Very old is now 50 and over? Gosh, and I thought 60 was the new 40. I pretty much only watch . Sometimes, . And I'm a little over a year away from 70.

  2. The problem is more of a brand dilution than an againg issue. NBC had a unique product with "Law & Order' that they stretched too thin. 'SVU, Criminal Intent. Undercover.... its too much L&O too often on too many cable properties.

  3. Too many programs are youth-oriented, which is why I seldom watch TV anymore.

  4. Is it a chicken and egg thing? Do we not watch TV because they don't target us or do they not target us because we don't watch TV?

    I'm 52 and have given up on TV.

  5. I don't think they're defining over 50 as "very old"; I think the phrase refers to the high proportion of audience members over 50. Over 50 is just "old," not "very old." They're saying, "The show's audience is very over-50," IOW.

    (This isn't to dispute your larger point. I keep my TV only for coverage of really major breaking news, and for The Weather Channel's local radar during thunderstorm season. OTOH, I spend more time on the Web than I ever did watching TV!)

  6. CBS has actually done a great job targeting the 45+ audience. Their average viewer age hovers in the 47-50 range; they also will have the fewest programming holes to fill this year.

  7. Don't sweat it. I haven't quite broken 30 yet and there's hardly anything marketed to my demographic (personality/cultural wise, not age).

    But they don't care. People like us just don't spend the average 4+ hours a day sitting in front of the tube. We never did, and we never will. Even if they stocked up channels with shows we loved, we would still never watch enough to make their advertisers giddy.

    I canceled the cable a long time ago and I don't regret it. We (as a culture) have too many monthly bills as it is.

  8. Maybe Hallmark channel will pick it up!

    " According to a study released by Magna Global’s Steve Sternberg, the five broadcast nets’ average live median age (in other words, not including delayed DVR viewing) was 50 last season. That’s the oldest ever since Sternberg started analyzing median age more than a decade ago — and the first time the nets’ median age was outside of the vaunted 18-49 demo…

    Among ad-supported cable nets, the news nets (along with older-skewing Hallmark Channel, Golf Channel and GSN’s daytime sked) sport the most gray, with Fox News Channel’s daytime and primetime skeds the absolute oldest, clocking in with a median age above 65. (Emphasis added.)"



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