The median audience age of the 10 biggest TV shows signals how few young people are tuning in


The biggest shows on networks are increasingly drawing in older viewers, which is a challenge for brands that want to reach out to young people.

The New York Times published a report Monday called “Why Traditional TV is in Trouble.”

The article describes how networks are in trouble due to the decline in ratings, especially among young people, many of whom don’t even own TVs or watch anything live.

The article includes data from Nielsen showing the median age of viewers of the 10 most popular shows on TV in the 2017-2018 season. They range from late 50s to late 40s.

“This season’s top-rated show, the revival of ‘Roseanne,’ has a median viewer age of 52.9 years,” the Times wrote. “The network show with the lowest median age is ‘Riverdale’ on the CW, at 37.2.”

With young people using devices other than a TV to watch TV- often going straight to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu for content- the networks have a limited live audience which hampers the reach for potential advertisers.

Here, we listed the top ten shows of the 2017-2018 season along with their median age and Rotten Tomatoes score:

“The Good Doctor” — ABC, median age 58.6


Description: “A talented young surgeon with savant syndrome ruffles feathers while saving lives at a prestigious hospital’s pediatric surgical unit.”

Seasons: One. It premiered Fall 2017.

Critic Score: 58%

Audience Score: 87%

“Young Sheldon” — CBS, median age 57.4

Robert Voets/CBS‘Young Sheldon’ star Iain Armitage.

Description: “Season 1 of the spin-off of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ follows 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper as he grows up in East Texas and attends high school.”

Seasons: One. It premiered Fall 2017.

Critic Score: 76%

Audience Score: 68%

“The Voice” — NBC, median age 57.3

Trae Patton/NBC

Description: “Singers square off for a coveted recording contract in this reality talent contest from the producers of ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Survivor.’ Four vocal coaches mentor the contestants in three distinct competition phases: the blind auditions (during which the coaches can’t see a contestant and thereby judge them solely on their vocal talent); the battle phase (in which the contestants are advised and developed); and, lastly, the live-performance phase.”

Seasons: 14. It premiered Spring 2011.

Critic Score: N/A

Audience Score: N/A

“The Big Bang Theory” — CBS, median age 56.2


Description: “A new comedy about a pair of brilliant physicists who understand how the universe works but have no clue about how to interact with people.”

Seasons: 11. It premiered in Fall 2007.

Critic Score: 82%

Audience Score: 82%

“9-1-1” — Fox, median age 53.5


Description: “From creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk (the ‘American Horror Story’ franchise, ‘Nip/Tuck’), new procedural drama ‘9-1-1’ explores the high-pressure experiences of police officers, paramedics and firefighters who are thrust into the most frightening, shocking and heart-stopping situations. These emergency responders must try to balance saving those who are at their most vulnerable with solving the problems in their own lives.”

Seasons: One. It premiered Winter 2018.

Critic Score: 69%

Audience Score: 70%

“Grey’s Anatomy” — ABC, median age 53.1


Description: “The story revolves around five surgical interns and their supervisors, showing their personal and professional lives.”

Seasons: 14. It premiered Spring 2005.

Critic Score: 72%

Audience Score: 79%

“Roseanne” — ABC, median age 52.9


Description: “A loving but imperfect working-class family led by its ‘domestic goddess’ mother was the basis of this classic, long-running sitcom. Issue-oriented storylines and its identifiable blue-collar characters made this the antithesis of the traditional warm-and-fuzzy family sitcom, and the success of its stand-up star inspired other comics (including Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen) to launch their own shows. “

Seasons: One. The revival premiered Spring 2018. The original show, which had nine seasons, premiered in 1988.

Critic Score: 75%

Audience Score: 68%

“This Is Us” — NBC, median age 52.6


Description: “Several people begin to notice peculiar coincidences about each other in this dramedy.”

Seasons: Two. It premiered in Fall 2016.

Critic Score: 90%

Audience Score: 87%

“Will & Grace” — NBC, median age 52.2


Description: “Snappy hit about a straight woman and a gay man who are best friends.”

Seasons: One. The revival premiered Fall 2017. The original show, which had eight seasons, premiered in 1998.

Critic Score: 86%

Audience Score: 59%

“Empire” — Fox, median age 47.8


Description: “A music mogul plans for the future of his empire as his three sons and his ex-wife battle each other to become the next heir apparent to the hip-hop throne.”

Seasons: Four. It premiered in Winter 2015.

Critic Score: 85%

Audience Score: 78%

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