• TV Networks Wise Up – Finally Embrace Baby Boomers

    March 13th, 2011

    Faithful readers of my ramblings over the past few years – are aware of my passion to get the network suits – and advertisers – to embrace the really big spenders – The Baby Boomers.   While the misguided network buyers and bosses focus on the 18-49′s – the Baby Boomer Bubble keeps getting bigger and bigger – and therein lies a huge chunk of disposal income.

    That’s why I was amused by a recent Wall Street Journal article that acknowledged this situation – and quoted network execs who also have apparently seen the light.  The article titled “Television’s Senior Moment”  noted there are now 80 million Baby Boomers – aged 47-to-65  – who watch a disproportionate amount of TV and control over half of all U.S. consumer spending.  The article notes what I have been saying for a long time – that the Baby Boomer generation is not like previous generations that pulled back their spending when they turned 55.

    That difference is the linchpin that television execs and advertisers need to explore and understand.  They have chased that 18-49 age group believing that they are more likely to switch from their favorite brands and spend more on everything from soft drinks to electronics to cars.  Today’s Boomers differ greatly from their parents.  They are a much livelier group investing in iPads and Kindles, buying expensive vehicles and willing to try new brands instead of the same old one they’ve used for years.  These Boomers have forged their own unique path from birth through their teens and on to today.  They are not their fathers’ Oldsmobile!

    Baby Boomers watch more than an hour more television every day than the younger generation, and they embrace new technology – half of them tape favorite shows on their DVRs.  They also are saving the traditional Big Four networks by making up the bulk of their audience.  Baby Boomers are the TV Generation – why should they change just because the calendar says they are in their 50′s and 60′s?

    How important are the Boomers to network television?   The Wall Street Journal article notes that the 55-plus crowd makes up 60% of the weekly audience for “Dancing With The Stars” and “The Good Wife.”  Even the younger-skewing “Glee” relies on Boomers for over 20% of its weekly viewership.

    So now the TV networks are asking advertisers to pay more for the “quality” of the audience – instead of just selling that young demo.  I love the quote from David Poltrack who is chief of research for CBS.  He says, “We’re saying…look the fact is an affluent 58-year-old is certainly more valuable than a 22-year-old who is just getting by.”  Amen brother!

    And one final comment from the Wall Street Journal article before I smugly rest my case.   NBC Universal did a study of what they called “Alpha Boomers” – people aged 55-to-64.  NBC’s Alan Wurtzel says they found them willing to “change brands, spend on technology, use social network sites, and buy online.”  Hmmm – sounds just like those coveted 18-49′s doesn’t it?

    Jim

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