Are You an ‘Alpha Boomer’? The Graying of the TV Audience — and What the Networks Are Doing About It

Feb 24, 2014  •  Post A Comment

The broadcast networks are starting to respond to a demographic change, given that the median age of a broadcast TV viewer is now 54, the highest it’s ever been, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker.

Two decades ago, the median age was 41. “The most-watched scripted series in the 1993-94 season was ‘Home Improvement,’ with a median viewer age of 34. Today, it’s ‘NCIS,’ with a median viewer who is 61,” the piece reports.

In response, networks are developing shows to appeal to older viewers. NBC is working on a new family comedy with Bill Cosby, who is 76. ABC is developing a show about basketball-playing friends who are in their 60s.

The CBS show "The Millers" has a cast that includes 72-year-old Beau Bridges and 62-year-old Margo Martindale, the report notes, while NBC’s "The Blacklist" centers on James Spader, who’s not exactly a sprout at 54.

The piece reports: “Confronted with these realities, the networks are aggressively making the case to advertisers that older viewers are valuable — especially the affluent and influential 55-to-64-year-olds they’re calling ‘alpha boomers.’ The 50-and-up crowd of today, they contend, is far different than the frugal and brand-loyal group that came of age during the Great Depression and World War II.”

By 2017, consumers 40 and over are expected to control about 70% of the country’s disposable income, the story notes.

Thumbnail image for bill-cosby.jpgBill Cosby


  1. I always wondered about the obsession with the 18-34 and 18-49 demos, even while I was part of them.
    Now that I’m 55+, I buy the same amount of products and I’m just as likely to try a new brand, or entirely new product category, as I was 10 and 20 years ago. Glad advertisers are waking up to this simple fact.
    Of course, being born at the very peak of the baby boom (more babies born in 1957 — 4.3 million — than any other year except 2007) I’ve gotten used to advertisers and programmers aiming their message right at me. It’s the one good thing about being in the baby boom; the downside, of course, is that it’s virtually impossible for boomers to get hired these days when our old jobs disappear. Sigh.

  2. About time. I wonder how many shows were cancelled based on the old data. “A Gifted Man” a few years ago averaged 8 to 9 million viewers per episode and won its time slot every Friday night it aired. As I recall, even when it aired RE-RUNS, it won its time slot. In other words, it had more viewers than any other TV show on during that time slot. Sometimes it had more viewers than 2 to 3 of the other networks combined. But . . . since the Demo ratings were somewhat low . . . it was cancelled.
    Imagine having double the viewers of any other network, being #1 in your time slot, and you still get cancelled. Didn’t make any sense to me. Maybe the ratings are finally catching up to who is really watching TV.

  3. Ditto, folks! Now that the programmers have awakened, it’s time for the media buyers to find out that we don’t stop purchasing at 50, 60 or 70.

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