Broadcast TV audiences are aging
No surprise at all, but Variety has a story with a lot of data on median ages that keep creeping up for broadcasters. Cable isn’t really having the same problem, with some of the bigger cable networks having decreasing median ages.
Also of note, DVR viewers for major broadcasters have much lower median ages, but because DVR viewing isn’t a very high percentage of overall viewing, it doesn’t change the median age too much. Remember, repeats make up a significant portion of what’s broadcast and repeats don’t get much DVR action.
And speaking of old, what’s up with Variety still using the “Big Three” (ABC, CBS and NBC) lingo? They still talk about the Big Three and Fox. I don’t have a problem with using the Big Three, but please, change it to the Big Three and NBC, because that’s how it actually is.
The networks still preach adults 18-49, but the Big Three are all expected to post median ages above 50 this fall — with Fox not too far behind.
According to a recent study by former Magna Global EVP Steve Sternberg, the broadcast networks as a whole have once again grown older than ever. The five broadcast nets’ average live median age this year — in other words, not counting DVR usage — was 51.
That’s a whopping 8-year uptick from 10 years ago, when the nets’ median age was 43. In comparison, the median age of TV households has grown much less from 1998-1999 to 2008-2009, to 38 from 36.
“While CBS’ average median age remains over 50, ABC has aged up to hit 50 for the first time, and NBC has been hovering close to 50 for a few years now,” wrote Sternberg, in his final report for Magna (which he departed earlier this summer).
“And with Leno taking over the Monday-Friday 10 p.m. time slots next season, it will be hard-pressed not to surpass 50 as well,” he added.
The DVR audience for ABC, CBS and NBC is 10 years younger, while it’s seven years younger for Fox and two years younger for CW. For example, the median age for the audience watching ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” live is 48.9, while the audience watching the show on DVR has a median age of 38.3. At CBS, the live audience watching “Amazing Race” has a median age of 51.9, while the aud watching the show while time-shifting is aged just 39.2.