The graying of the networksABC viewers age 3.2 years, making it the second-oldest broadcast network after CBS 6/17/2001 08:00:00 PM Eastern
For years, CBS has been kidded as the geriatric network because the median age of its viewers has been a decade or so above the other networks'. But, if aging trends among the six broadcast networks this year continue, CBS may want to make room in the nursing home for ABC.
Two seasons ago (1999-2000), there was a nine-year difference in the median age of the typical CBS and ABC viewers, according to data supplied by TN Media, the New York-based ad buyer. At CBS, the median age was 52.4, the oldest among the networks. The median age at ABC was 43.4 years, putting it third-oldest behind NBC (45.2).
For the season just ended, the difference between CBS, still the oldest network, and ABC was cut in half. The median age at CBS dropped more than a year to 51.2 years, while ABC's aged a whopping 3.2 years to 46.6, making it the second-oldest network and dropping NBC to third.
Four of the six networks aged this season, reflecting to some degree the aging of the general population. Fox aged by about a year to a median age of 36; UPN, by 1.3 years to 34.1; and The WB, almost half a year to 29.1. NBC was essentially flat at just a shade over 45.
But CBS showed the only significant decline and ABC the most significant increase. In both cases, reality programming played a key role. CBS' hit show Survivor: The Australian Outback was the network's youngest show, with a median age of 39.6. The previous season, without Survivor (the first edition aired in summer 2000), CBS' youngest-skewing show was the since-canceled Nash Bridges, with a median age of 48.1.
ABC's reliance this season on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was responsible for much of the network's aging. It wasn't a particularly youthful show to begin with, and it got old quickly in the course of two seasons.
In the 1999-2000 season, the Sunday edition ofMillionaire posted a median age of 46.9 years. For the season just ended the show aged by 5 1/2 years, to 52.4. And this season, the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday editions of the show all fell within the 10 oldest-skewing shows of the season, with a median age of 55 or older.
The youngest show on the networks this season was UPN'sCelebrity Deathmatch, which died after just four outings with a median age of 21.2. The youngest show returning to the schedule next season was The WB's Popstars, at 24.4. The oldest show on the schedule was CBS' now-defunctDiagnosis Murder, at 57.7, followed by the returning60 Minutes, at 57.0. (60 Minutes was No. 1 in the ratings last week.) The accompanying list supplied by TN Media shows the median ages for 2000-01 network programs that are returning in the fall.
|How old are your viewers?|
|Prime time October 2000-May 2001|
|Base = Persons 2+
Source: TN Media
|Whose Line Is It Anyway? (8:30 p.m.)||39.2|
|The Drew Carey Show||40.0|
|Wonderful World of Disney||40.0|
|Whose Line Is It Anyway?||41.1|
|Once and Again||41.8|
|My Wife & Kids (8 p.m.)||42.2|
|Dharma & Greg||42.4|
|ABC Saturday Night Movie||42.9|
|What About Joan||43.1|
|NFL Monday Night Football||43.7|
|Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (Sunday)||52.4|
|King of Queens||47.2|
|Everybody Loves Raymond||47.6|
|CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||49.5|
|CBS Sunday Movie||52.1|
|Touched by an Angel||55.2|
|60 Minutes II||56.4|
|Malcolm in the Middle||28.8|
|Grounded for Life||29.4|
|King of the Hill||29.5|
|That '70s Show||31.3|
|America's Most Wanted||42.3|
|Will & Grace||37.8|
|Just Shoot Me||37.9|
|NBC Sunday Night Movie||43.3|
|NBC Saturday Night Movies||44.0|
|Law & Order||48.7|
|The West Wing||49.7|
|Law & Order: SVU||50.1|
|Dateline (Sunday 8 p.m.)||51.3|
|Dateline (Sunday 7 p.m.)||52.8|
|UPN's Movie Friday||37.5|
|Special Unit 2||41.5|
|Sabrina, the Teenage Witch||25.3|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer||28.8|
|Gilmore Girls (Monday)||30.9|
|The Steve Harvey Show||30.9|