Bill first wrote about cable networks abandoning their roots to grab larger audiences almost four months ago. An article yesterday by The Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes explores the theme in more depth and suggests that it's not always so much an attempt to draw a bigger audience, but rather a younger one:
"Five years ago we had a big median-age issue," A&E President and General Manager Bob DeBitetto told us. "The median age of the network was about 62 years old. With the possible exception of the Hallmark Channel, it was the oldest-skewing cable network -- period. That's a problem, regrettably. It's a challenge for those of us that are in the advertiser-supported industry because . . . ad agencies target demographic delivery."
"Target demographic delivery" is a politically correct way of saying "discriminate on the basis of age" -- advertisers pay networks far less if they attract older viewers.
"We decided at some risk to begin to transform our programming approach, to introduce A&E to an entirely new generation of viewers," DeBitetto explained.
Good bye, "Horatio Hornblower"; hello "Growing up Gotti."