For media buyers negotiating with broadcast networks on
behalf of their clients this week for 2012-13 primetime ad commitments, it's
got to feel a bit like a supermarket out there. But what among the crop looks
freshest, and what looks like it's got a fast-approaching expiration date on
it? What do you pick up for the younger set, and heck, what do you want (you know who you are...and how
old you are)? Nielsen viewer data from the past season indicates that there is,
in fact, a cart's worth of choice among returning shows.
Advertisers looking for younger audiences can take a couple
of routes. The broadcast TV series reaching the youngest median ages are on Fox's
Sunday animation block, and they hit a majority of harder-to-reach males. The
two youngest-skewing shows on broadcast TV are Fox's animated Family Guy
and American Dad, each with a median age of 30, followed closely by Bob's
Burgers and The Cleveland Show with viewer median
ages of 31, and The Simpsons with a median age of 32.
The youngest-skewing live-action scripted show on broadcast
TV is The CW's Gossip Girl, with a median age of 32. All of The CW's
other returning shows except for Nikita have median age audiences under
40, including 90210 (33), The Vampire
Diaries (34), The Secret Circle (37), America's
Next Top Model (38) and Hart of Dixie and Supernatural (both
For those advertisers who want to reach more than the 1.5
million viewers those shows average, some series on broadcast networks other than The CW would do the trick.
The Fox sitcom New Girl, for instance, boasts a median age of 35. NBC's The
Office is next lowest with a median age of 37, followed by Fox's Raising
Hope and NBC's Parks and Recreation (38 each) and Fox's Glee
(39); those are the only other broadcast network series with a median age
audience under 40.
There aren't many that have median age audiences under
45, either. And they include: NBC's Community (41), NBC's 30 Rock
and ABC's Happy Endings (43 each) and five series averaging 44: Fox's
Kitchen Nightmares, ABC's Modern Family and Don't Trust the
B----- in Apt. 23, and NBC's The Voice and Up All Night.
Here's a rather noticeable trend: Beyond The CW, no Big Four
network dramas are included in the list. The youngest-skewing drama in
broadcast primetime is NBC's Parenthood,
with a median age audience of 47. ABC dramas Once Upon a Time and Grey's
Anatomy, and Fox's Fringe each have a median age audience of
48, while NBC's Smash has a median age of 49. No other drama has a
median age audience under 50. Fox's Touch and ABC's Private Practice
come in with age 51. Fox's Bones has a median age audience of 52 and ABC's
Scandal is at 54.
There's been a lot written about how CBS' sitcom Two and
a Half Men is on the downswing, but its season-long ratings tell a
different story. The series averaged 1 million more viewers per night in the
2011-12 season than it did in 2010-11 (12.6 million compared to 11.6 million)
and its 18-49 rating this past season was a 4.2, up 20% from the previous year.
Moving it to Thursday leading out of The Big Bang Theory is going to
keep it strong and may even improve its numbers over this past season's.
Big Bang, by the way, showed the largest growth of
any show on television (excluding The Voice, whose numbers were artificially impacted by airing its season
premiere leading out of the Super Bowl). Big Bang averaged 2 million
more viewers per episode this season than the 2010-11 season, averaging 13.5 million
vs. 11.5 million. And it increased its 18-49 rating by 22% to a 4.4 from a 3.6.
Two Monday night CBS veteran sitcoms (in addition to Two
and a Half Men) also increased their 18-49 demo ratings and viewers. How
I Met YourMother averaged 8.5 million viewers per show, up from 7.8
million, and hiked its demo rating by about 10% to a 3.4 from a 3.0. Mike
& Molly averaged 10.2 million viewers vs. 10.1 million, and hiked its demo
rating to a 3.2 from a 3.0.
Much has been made of the hefty audience and demo ratings
losses incurred by Fox's American Idol and ABC's Dancing With the
Stars. The season numbers show that Idol
averaged almost six million fewer viewers on its Wednesday night competition
show this past season (23.9 million vs. 18 million) and declined about 32% in
the 18-49 demo (8.0 to 5.4). The declines were equally as large for the
Thursday results show. Viewership also fell by almost six million (22 million
to 16.4 million) and in the demo, ratings fell by about 31%, to a 4.7 from a
The declines were almost as large for DWTS. The
competition shows on Mondays averaged almost four million viewers less than the
2010-11 season (21.1 million vs. 17.3 million) while the demo rating fell 30%
to a 3.1 from a 4.5. The results shows on Tuesdays averaged 2.6 million less
(18 million vs. 15.4 million) and the demo rating fell 20% to a 2.9 from a 3.7.
Both shows, however, still give advertisers mass
reach in an era where fragmented audiences are becoming so much more the rule.
You can expect many advertisers to be willing to once again overlook the large
percentage losses and still feel that these two shows are among the most
watched on television. That said, media buyers might require a little more convincing
when it comes to paying any kind of rate hikes for these two shows.