Skip to comments.Study says boomers don't like what's on TV
Posted on 11/19/2006 8:53:37 PM PST by Snickering Hound
NEW YORK Americans born between 1946 and 1964 are accustomed to being catered to, but that's not the case with much of television today. Now there's some new evidence that they're finding this mighty irritating.
A study conducted by Harris Interactive suggests that the television industry's obsession with youth is backfiring.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they believe that most TV programming and advertising is targeted toward people under 40, the survey said. More than 80 percent of adults over 40 say they have a hard time finding TV shows that reflect their lives.
A significant number of baby boomers 37 percent say they aren't happy with what's on television, according to the study.
"The amount of people dissatisfied with television overall was a pretty big eye-opening thing for us," said Larry Jones, president of the TV Land cable network, which commissioned the study.
To a certain extent, the generation that decades ago warned against trusting people over 30 can blame itself for the predicament. The TV industry's slavish devotion to ratings within the 18-to-49-year-old demographic started when most baby boomers fit into that group.
The theory among advertisers is that it's important to reach young people as their preferences are forming get them hooked on a certain toothpaste or soda early and they'll be hooked for life. Advertisers will pay a premium for young viewers: $335 for every thousand people in the 18-to-24 age range that a network delivers, for example. Viewers aged 55-to-64 are worth only $119 for every thousand, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That's why ABC and NBC conduct all of their business with advertisers in the 18-to-49 demo. From a financial standpoint, if you're 50 or over, you mean nothing to those networks' executives. For Fox, the CW, MTV, BET and countless other networks, even 40 is too old.
The peak year for births within the baby boom, Jones noted, was 1957 meaning all those people are turning 49 this year.
Much of the television industry isn't aging with them.
"They've just never changed or haven't realized that the population has moved on," said Randy Berkowitz, vice president of research for Combe Inc., which makes health products and beauty aids.
Berkowitz believes that "people are just not in tune with TV because they can't relate to it anymore."
Jones, who's 46, said he wants to come home at night and see an entertainment program that appeals to his sensibilities. Some people may find Paris Hilton funny on "The Simple Life," for example not him.
To a surprising extent, advertising is also alienating. The Harris Interactive study found that half of baby boomers say they tune out commercials that are clearly aimed at young people. An additional one-third said they'd go out of their way NOT to buy such a product.
"I'm not saying that every show, every network should reshape, but that's an awfully high level of dissatisfaction among the largest generation group of all time," said Ken Dychtwald, a psychologist who worked with Harris Interactive on the study. (Harris conducted an online survey of 4,220 adults between April 28-May 15 this year, with a sampling error of plus or minus 1.5 percent).
Some advertisers have responded to the aging population. Financial services firms, for example, see many potential customers advancing toward retirement. Two decades ago drug companies didn't advertise on TV; now you could fill a medicine cabinet with all the products hawked on the evening news.
But these were cases where the companies making these products saw the opportunity, not necessarily the TV industry, Berkowitz said.
TV Land's Jones is already using the survey in his business. The results have convinced him that, more than ever, his network of mostly classic TV shows should be boomer-centric, he said. He also comes armed with the survey when he meets with the Madison Avenue types who buy advertising time.
One statistic he's sure to cite: The survey found 51 percent of the postwar generation describe themselves as "open to new ideas." Meanwhile, only 12 percent of young adults think the older folks feel that way.
Why does that matter? Jones said the average media buyer or planner is under 30. Many are undoubtedly hired for their know-how in appealing to a specific generation, and it isn't the baby boomers.
"There is this huge perception versus reality situation in the marketplace," he said.
Jones is pushing the idea of a "middlescence," about 40-to-59-year-olds who don't feel young anymore but don't feel old, and have plenty of discretionary income.
With the continued carving of the television audience into smaller slices because of all the networks on the air, the chance for advertisers to reach particular niches increases, said Evan Shapiro, who had his own marketing firm and is now head of the Independent Film Channel. Shapiro, 37, doesn't buy the idea that there's nothing on TV for older viewers.
"If you are a 50-year-old male or female, there is an enormous amount of television for you," he said. "It's just not on all the places that it used to be."
Still, Shapiro said he senses that marketers are slowly waking up to the potential in older TV viewers.
But by the time it happens, the children of the baby boomers will be the focus, making their parents even more irrelevant in television's eyes, he said.
I think they're setting up the fourth season with the FBI internship offer. The ratings are low, but the CW's ratings are in the basement anyway. I doubt if a new show will spark any more interest, and they at least have the cachet of a critical darling in Veronica.
I'm enjoying Smallville. Finally, an honest-to-God superhero on the show! Green Arrow is really making Clark look bad. He better get in the damn suit quick or else.
Jimmy sucks, though. And, if a certain someone (keeping it vague, in case someone is watching along on DVD) gets an abortion, I'm out of there.
Oh yeeha. Look who's here.
Is TV rage about to become the new pandemic? Tune in next week to find out.
Forget finding something that reflects my life. Just put something on that: 1) has no pelvic thrusts, butt-only shots, crotch shots, mauling, gyrations, lip-smackin' sickening noise enhancement for the extended French kissing, etc, 2) has actors and actresses keeping their clothes on, and 3) has clothes that count as clothes, 4) doesn't have every fifth word bleeped out but still audible, 5) doesn't have little children made up to look and act like wannabe child porn stars, 6) has PLOTS (hey guys, remember those?), 7) builds character, 8) doesn't push the liberal agenda (cram down the viewer's throat might be more apt), 9) isn't full of gore (Al or otherwise), and 10) is actual entertainment.
Right ON! House is the ONE show I have to watch on TV - we're not blessed with cable (actually, no one could find the actual cable line to my house, so I use that as an excuse not to get it).
Same thing happened to Smallville as happened to VH...it didn't stay as interesting when all the characters graduated HS (and also, to Buffy the Vampire Slayer). At least, IMO. I mean, aren't Chloe and Lana supposed to be attending Met U? When are they ever in class, or did I miss something? Chloe (Allison Mack is the most underrated babe on TV) is always at the Planet, and Lana is always with Lex.
Agree about GA. :) At least they're not bringing his comic-book leftism to the screen. And we got to see a glimpse of the Martian Manhunter last week! Whooo! I can't wait for the upcoming ep when Cyborg, Aquaman, and Flash all return.
It is and I even mentioned in a previous post that I was 55. ;)
The mainstream networks have always lived up the characterization of them made by Newton Minow (FCC head) during the Kennedy years.....he called TV "a vast wasteland". The complete dominance of Cable, with all its programming for real people with real interests, just makes ABC, CBS and NBC look that much more hopeless and hidebound. There are maybe 5 good sitcoms on regular TV in the last 10-15 years, and NO good drama shows. News shows are just a joke , as we have known for a loooonnnng time now.
Who keeps moving the bar forward? Sheesh, I'm not a baby boomer.
Oh man, now where did I put that Viagra pamplet..
Boomer my bedpan! I'm still in my 40's.
Three inept fathers, three different stereotypes, falling all over themselves to spoil their demanding kids.
I went to IMDb.com and read about it. Got a 6.9/10 for a rating among viewers.
Ah! My Three Dads...instead of only two.
When the show was on, I identified very much w/Michael and Gloria.
Nowadays, I shock myself with how much I sound like Archie Bunker.
Oh? I thought it was really good. But then again, I've always thought Don Johnson was severely under-rated as an actor. He can be very good. And the rest of the cast is excellent. Plus, the story is a classic.
Was there a show called My Two Dads? I seem to recall something like that. The three guys in the test show didn't live together. I saw the title & guessed what the show was gonna be like & I told the guy doing the survey as much.
"My Three Sons" was a good show!
I'm a Generation Joneser (1955-1964), so I'm old enough to remember some of the vintage 60s shows. There was an innocence in those days and a shared culture. Unfortunately, audiences grew jaded & cynical.
Starting in the late 70s, I stopped watching a lot of TV, only snatches here and there or a "special" program. Over the past few years I intermittently enjoyed LAW & ORDER, in spite of its liberal slant, because of the intelligent plotting. FRASIER & EVERYONE LOVES RAYMOND were funny, but those involve an older cast and has some kind of wit.
The stuff nowadays? Forget it. I have zero interest in TV now, for most of the reasons already articulated by my fellow FReepers. Maybe I too have simply moved on, but I feel completely alienated from the present culture. It's either leftwing or infantile.
I wouldn't even mind raunch so much (there's plenty of here on the FReep), as long as there's a warmth or adult humor to it. The stuff on TV seems both sterile and hostile. I sense a contempt for its viewers. In turn, it leaves me stone cold.
Don't have a TV at home, and don't play to buy one. Ever.
I quit watching TV 8 years ago. Every time I see it now, its worse than before. Now all the reality shows seem to be taking over.
I watch DVD and VHS only.