Monday, June 30, 2008

The Nets Get Older

No, not the internet...the broadcast television networks.

Variety reports that all of the networks have aged--some more than others with ABC and CBS, aging out of the prime TV demo, 18-49. For the just-completed 2007-08 TV season, CBS was oldest with a median age of 54. ABC clocked in at 50, followed by NBC (49), Fox (44), CW (34) and Univision (34). When you factor in time shifted viewing (DVR) the ages drop by about a year. In case you were wondering the average median age in the US is 38.

The article pointed out that traditional television is no longer necessarily the first screen for the younger set.

Even the shows that one might think would deliver younger viewers such as The Tonight Show profile out of the demo. In fact Leno's median age is the oldest of the late night talkers at 54, followed by "Late Show With David Letterman" at 53. "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" has edged up to 46 but still delivers the youngest demos of the late night shows.

I feature this story to further illustrate the challenges ahead for ALL traditional media--TV, newspaper, and RADIO. As the Variety story pointed out, TV was not necessary the first stop for young viewers, just as radio may not be the first choice for younger listeners. We know that 12-24's are still radio cumer's (down over the last decade but still there) based on Arbitron's national listening study, but we also know that their time spent listening and AQH rating are down dramatically.

We all must live in the here and now--meaning that programming must deliver ratings that sales can sell today. Budgets must be met. We all understand this reality. Unfortunately, that leaves little room to re-think, re-tool, re-deploy assets (stations) with new, inventive, and radically changed products. Products that may not be a big ratings draw--at first. Eventually the day will come and these changes will have to be made.

Will it be too late?

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