The audience for live broadcast TV is older than ever. According to new research from Magna Global, the median ages for CBS (s CBS), ABC (s DIS) and NBC (s GE) are expected to be over 50 years old this fall (via Variety).
For the just-completed season, the major broadcasters were already hovering around the half-century mark for live viewing. CBS was oldest with a median age of 55, ABC was at 51, NBC was at 49, FOX (s NWSA) was at 46, and The CW was the baby of the bunch at 34.
The silver lining to the networks’ grey hair is that their DVR playback audiences are much younger, with a median age of 40 years old. But when factoring in DVR usage, the networks’ median ages only dip slightly, with CBS at 54, ABC at 50, NBC at 47, FOX at 44 and the CW at 33. Robert Seidman over at TV by the Numbers explains why DVRs don’t have a bigger impact:
DVR viewers for major broadcasters have much lower median ages, but because DVR viewing isn’t a very high percentage of overall viewing, it doesn’t change the median age too much. Remember, repeats make up a significant portion of what’s broadcast and repeats don’t get much DVR action.
Variety reports that live audiences for networks are aging because except for some shows, like American Idol, there really isn’t a lot of fare for the younger set. The decline of comedy on the networks along with the rise of procedural dramas and older-skewing competitions like Dancing with the Stars are helping bring in the olds.
While the broadcasters age, cable network TV, on the other hand, is getting all Benjamin Button. The median age for TBS (s TWX) is 35 (down from 38 two years ago) and TNT is at 44 (down from 46). USA and FX, meanwhile, have held their youth at 46 and 37, respectively.