Tags: TV | audience | advertise | broadcast

TV Industry Appeals to Grayest Heads Ever

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Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 08:27 AM Current | Bio | Archive

If you watched one of the major broadcast TV networks last night, I'll give 50 percent odds that you are age 54 or older. That's the median age of people who tune in to network shows, according to research published in the Washington Post.

The media industry is struggling to cope as older Americans dominate TV audiences. To put it bluntly, golden-age eyeballs are far less valuable to advertisers than younger ones are.

Consumer brands can justify paying exorbitant ad rates only if they catch impressionable young viewers and create lifetime brand loyalty. This lets them amortize their branding expenses over decades.

On average, today's TV audience has fewer decades to shop. Yes, older viewers are attractive for certain segments, notably health-related products, but covering a network's overhead with catheter commercials is difficult.

Where is the young audience advertisers want to reach? It's not watching TV — or at least not a TV with commercials. The Internet generation (anyone under about 40) is accustomed to viewing what they want, when they want it. Technology lets them do it, too. They have access to endless commercial-free entertainment.

This is a big problem if you are a network TV executive. You need eyeballs — and not just any old eyeballs. Your audience must compel advertisers to pay premium rates.

One way to build such an audience is with time-sensitive live events. More than anything else, young people want to connect with their peers. They are more likely to watch if you create a giant shared experience for them. Live sports are a great way to do this. So are pop culture events like the Oscars.

The other strategy goes the opposite direction. Forget about "broad" casting and instead go narrow. Find a niche that is attractive to an audience advertisers want to reach, and build content they want to see. You don't need a big audience if it is the right audience.

Children's programming is a perfect example. The cartoon-watching population isn't huge, but it has few existing brand loyalties — and plenty of influence over household spending.

TV content isn't exclusive to TV anymore, either. Networks are figuring out how to slice and dice their programming into tablet-friendly and smartphone-friendly portions. They have little choice. Unless it is one of those giant shared events, young Americans prefer to consume video on mobile devices.

If you want to reach the audience, you go where the audience is. The TV audience is moving fast. The networks had better move even faster.

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PatrickWatson
If you watched one of the major broadcast TV networks last night, I'll give 50 percent odds that you are age 54 or older. That's the median age of people who tune in to network shows, according to research published in the Washington Post.
TV, audience, advertise, broadcast
415
2014-27-10
Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 08:27 AM
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