Here’s a bigger problem than declining ratings: Audiences for network TV keep getting older. According to a report from media buying firm Magna Global, via B&C, the average age of the network TV viewer hit 50 years for the first time this year.
Consider, for a moment, that advertisers don’t pay the networks a nickel for any viewer older than 49 — except during news programs, when they’ll pitch adult diapers to those up to 54 years of age. So viewers’ average age is now too old.
(The networks’ case: As the country ages overall, advertisers will eventually want to reach an older audience. But we’ve been hearing that for years, and the agencies haven’t bought into it yet.)
Where are the young viewers? For years they’ve been watching more cable TV, but even once-young networks like MTV are gradually getting older, too. Young people live in a multi-screen world, and network TV is increasingly getting left behind.
Is it that the shows are bad or that young people just don’t adhere to linear TV schedules? A little bit of both. When DVR viewing is added into Magna’s calculus, the median age drops a year, to 49.
How do the networks shake out? Average age for live-only viewing:
The CW: 34
With 7 days of DVR viewing factored in:
The CW: 34