Television's senior moment in black and white.
Television's Senior Moment. (The Wall Street Journal, 3/9/2011)
Excerpt: For decades the TV industry has operated on a currency of youth, creating shows that appeal to 18- to 49-year-olds, the age group advertisers traditionally consider most likely to buy new products, switch brands and spend on everything from cars to soft drinks. But as the nearly 80 million baby boomers continue to age out of the coveted demographic—the oldest boomers are turning 65 this year, the youngest 47—networks want to charge advertisers more to reach them. After all, these viewers still watch a disproportionate amount of TV, and they control half of all U.S. consumer spending.
From Ed O'Neill's patriarch on ABC's "Modern Family" to 51-year-old Hugh Laurie on Fox's "House," boomers' influence can be seen in programming. On "NCIS," TV's No. 1 drama with an average viewer age of 57, strapping young naval investigators turn to wise 59-year-old Mark Harmon for advice.
Network executives' pitch to advertisers is that the current crop of aging viewers isn't like previous generations, who were winding down their spending at 55. This group buys iPads, redecorates, splurges on vacations and postpones retirement. "People still think of their grandparents when they were 60 wearing comfort shoes and baggy chinos," says Alan Wurtzel, NBC Universal's president of research. "These guys are just fundamentally different."