What's the average age of the network TV watcher?

It doesn't look like younger people are tuning into network TV much anymore -- less and less each year.

According to the just-released statistics for the 2012-2013 television season, viewership for the major broadcast networks is skewing older and older. In fact, for the five broadcast networks -- CBS, ABC, FOX, NBC, and the CW, the average viewer was 49.44 years old -- up from last year's median age of 48.1.

Here's the breakdown by network:

1. CBS: 56.2     (Up from 55.6 in 2011-2012)
2. ABC: 53.2     (Up from 52.3 in 2011-2012)
3. NBC: 49.5     (Up from 49.3 in 2011-2012)
4. FOX: 46.6     (Up from 46.2 in 2011-2012)
5. CW: 41.7      (Up from 37.1 in 2011-2012)

This rising age seems to indicate that younger viewers are no longer watching the big networks. This might mean that they've traded the bigger channels in for cable fare -- or that they've taken to watching television through "alt methods," as Sons of Anarchy showrunner Kurt Sutter tweeted.

The networks are aware of the evacuating youth viewership, and appear to be making a play for their return (FOX has Andy Samberg's Brooklyn Nine-Nine; ABC has the Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series). But is it too late? Possibly -- with edgier programs on cable and the ability to watch television with greater convenience online, it doesn't seem to be like younger audiences feel obligated to stick with the networks.

What do you think the reason is for the higher average age for network TV?

- CW

Written by: mcpherson
May 21st, 2013, 3:41 pm

Images courtesy of Getty


Message Posted On May 25th, 2013, 5:05 am
I don't live in the usa, and I'm not paying the local company through the nose for 6 months old tv shows with heaps of ads still, that I have to watch whenever they say. So I download. For some reason there is still no decent legal way to do it, so I might as well do it free. So what if I get caught and thrown in jail, they can't catch everyone, I'll gladly sacrifice my time so that others can pirate. If the networks think they can stick to the old model of broadcast tv they're morons. The worse your service gets compared to the alternative, the more you alienate people for just for trying to watch tv when and how it suits them, the more you'll be resented and the less likely people will be to give you any of their money.

Message Posted On May 22nd, 2013, 1:41 am
Late forty's to fifty year old. These guys grew up on TV. Of course the audience is getting older. TV didn't make an impact until the 50's, by the 60's it was in every home as it is now. The Execs are foolish to cater for the 20-35 demographic. You cannot rely on historic data. This is why we have crap TV today, the Execs are out of touch. Technology will kill off TV in 30 years as the older viewer sees there is nothing on and migrates to other things. Reality shows are not the answer after a few seasons they get stale.

Message Posted On May 21st, 2013, 7:24 pm
Younger people are more busy. Streaming a show is more convenient, has less commercials, can be watched again, and doesn't require a television. Network shows are still popular, they're just being watched in a different way. More people are cutting cable anyways, so I would hardly say they're flocking to cable programming.

Level 1 (54%)
Points: 9.9
Mood: depressed
Since: 15/May/13
Message Posted On May 21st, 2013, 5:59 pm
When you're young you don't need to watch reality shows, they live them... Older people watch them because they can't experience it now so they need the reality shows to feel like they are younger. Also the older you get the more you want quality TV and you don't need the eye candy the younger viewers need have to get their attention.

Level 2 (42%)
Points: 10.1
Since: 21/May/13
Message Posted On May 21st, 2013, 4:14 pm

Maybe they'll start learning you can't just throw any old reality crap on and expect people to still keep watching.

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