Harsh News for Networks, As Well as for People Over 50

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NETWORKS & DEMOGRAPHICS
June 30, 2008, 11:37 am
Harsh News for Networks, As Well as for People Over 50
By BRIAN STELTER

(NY Times) “Women’s Murder Club,” above, starring Laura Harris and Paula Newsome, was the oldest-skewing show on ABC last season. It was canceled.
“Supernanny,” below, had the youngest audience of any show on ABC.

Last week’s annual “median age report” by the media buying agency Magna Global contained a newsworthy kernel that quickly became another example of broadcast television’s woes.

If the broadcasters “were a person, they wouldn’t even be a part of TV’s target demo anymore,” Variety proclaimed.

For the first time, Magna found, “the average live median age for the five broadcast networks combined is 50.” In the harsh (and unrealistic) demographics of television, where 18- to 49-year-olds are most coveted, that is unwelcome news indeed.

According to Magna, the live median age for CBS is 54; for ABC is 50; for NBC is 49; and for Fox is 44. The median age for the CW is 34, but its overall viewership is much smaller than the others. Spanish language networks like Univision show median ages close to the CW’s.

But the live ratings conceal the viewers who watch television using digital video recorders. Among viewers who time-shift shows on ABC, CBS and NBC, the median ages are “each more than 10 years younger than their live median ages,” Steve Sternberg, the executive vice president of audience analysis for Magna, wrote in his report to clients.

Mr. Sternberg predicts that the median ages for CBS, ABC and Fox viewers will remain stable next season. He suggests that NBC’s move toward sci-fi and escapist fare gives the network a “reasonable chance of maintaining or lowering its average median age.”

So which shows are the “youngest” and “oldest” for the networks? The CW’s “One Tree Hill” has the youngest audience of any network show (a median age of 26). On Fox, “American Dad” and “Family Guy” have the youngest median ages (29), while the freshman drama “Canterbury’s Law” had the oldest (55; it was canceled). On NBC, “Scrubs” has the youngest audience (34), followed closely by “The Office” (35) and “American Gladiators” (36). “Monk,” a show NBC borrowed from USA during the writers’ strike, showed the oldest median age (58).

As for CBS, “How I Met Your Mother” nets the youngest viewers (45), while “60 Minutes” averages the oldest (60). On ABC, “Supernanny” is the youngest (41) and “Lost” follows closely behind (43), while “Women’s Murder Club” is the oldest (57; it was canceled). “Dancing With the Stars” has the oldest median age of a returning show on ABC, with an average age of 55.

Harsh News for Networks, As Well as for People Over 50 - TV Decoder - Media & Television - New York Times Blog
 

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