We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Our Outposters are a smart bunch. In between bickering about the next James Bond and being repulsed by frivolous Hollywood decisions, they drop nuggets of insight that turn out to be scarily prescient. Just three days ago, we expressed shock and surprise at the news that The CW, the youth and young adult-oriented television network, actually had an average viewer age of 58.
“But wait!” said a number of Outposters in Disqus. This is no surprise at all since only old people watch network TV anymore. Well, that would explain why every second commercial on American network television is for medicine. Could this be true? Is network TV completely propped up by old farts in their homes making painful decisions during the (all too frequent) breaks Riverdale?
Well, it turns out that yes, it is. A follow-up piece in Variety detailed conversations with ratings measurement firm Nielsen. Streaming platforms are not included in the statistics, so those who cut the chord do not appear in the view statistics.
According to Live +7 aggregate viewership data, the demographics are truly shocking. The CW is not the broadcast network with the youngest audience. It is FOX at 56.2 years old.
Next is NBC at 61.3, ABC at 62.2 and finally CBS at 63.3.
We’ve known for years that millennial and Gen Z viewers were turning away from TV in droves, first via streaming services and then for YouTube and TikTok entertainment. Their low attention span and demand for instant gratification confirm this. Gen X (that’s quite a bit of us, we’re guessing?) straddles the divide, just as we’re the generation that still remembers a time before the internet as well as coming of age in the digital age.
What this shows is a very troubling evolutionary impasse for network television. Its audience is aging and withering away while it is simply not being replaced in the funnel as young ‘ins’ simply make different viewing choices. The business model will reach a critical event horizon where the eyes no longer justify add-on expenses, so the revenue streams evaporate.
So is this it? Are we witnessing the death of network television and is it going to happen in our lifetime?
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