I found an interesting ...
I found an interesting statistic in a recent AP-TV Guide poll. It stated that people watch more TV as they get older: 14.7 hours per week for those 65 and older vs. nine hours for those 18 to 34, the age group most coveted by the networks. I'm not 65 or older, but I am a baby boomer, and although I'm not rich, I have a fair amount of disposable income and I watch a lot of prime-time TV. At the peril of generalizing the 18-to-34-year-olds, it seems to me that not only are they watching less TV, they have less disposable income because if they have jobs at all, they are entry-level, lower-paying jobs. They're also busy raising kids, coaching soccer or, if single, going out with friends to parties, bars etc. Given those (admitted) generalities, and the results of the poll, do you see any possibility that maybe someday the networks will decide we boomers are a somewhat better audience to play to than the 18-to-34 crowd? I'm not getting my hopes up, but it sure would be nice to be listened to now and then. I really liked shows like The District
, The Guardian
, Judging Amy
and other thoughtful dramas that aren't all gore (CSI
) or silly "reality" (Tommy Lee Goes to College
). Also, we tend to have longer attention spans than either the networks or the younger crowd, so we'd be more willing to give shows like Eyes
and Blind Justice
a chance. If the networks listened to us, such shows might have more of a chance. Your thoughts?Answer:
It's not so much that the networks don't value the aging boomer audience (although they have pretty much given up on the older end of the spectrum), but that the advertisers call these demographic shots. CBS used many of your arguments for years in attaching value to the 25-to-54 demo, but the advertisers are more interested in reaching the group that's hardest to reach (again, for many of the reasons you describe). It's a conundrum, but there's a premium for delivering a show with a younger viewership, and if men (the most fickle of all) are part of the mix, even better. It isn't fair and it isn't right, and lots of worthy shows have paid the price for this myopic chase for a narrow subset of viewers.
[Editor's Note: If you missed Friday's column, you'll find it here.]