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Older Audiences Now Dominate Primetime TV Viewership

Photo from Erik McLean via Unsplash

Older Audiences Now Dominate Primetime TV Viewership

By Movieguide® Contributor

In previous years, TV shows’ viewership hung on the ages of 18-49. Now, it’s the older folks who’re bringing in the numbers.

“The median age for a network primetime viewer long has been above 50 — this year, it comes in at 64.6 for the five English-language broadcast networks. Cable is much the same, with such networks as Bravo skewing a little younger (its median viewer age is 56), while the Big Three news channels’ average viewer is about 69,” The Hollywood Reporter said on May 29.

“Only one English-language show that aired on a broadcast network this season — BOB’S BURGERS on Fox — had a median age (where half a show’s viewers were younger and half older) below 50, and not by much: The animated series’ median viewer age was 49.5. (All numbers in this story are through May 19, three days before the end of the September-to-May TV season.),” The Hollywood Reporter said.

The Wall Street Journal observed that channels have recently leaned into catering to their older audiences and aren’t “pretending to have youth appeal.”

Fox has the lowest median at 58.1 while CBS’s BLUEBLOODS has the highest at age 73, which is “just one of a dozen CBS shows with a median viewer age over 70,” per Inside Radio.

ABC’s median is 65.5, NBC’s is 64.9 and The CW’s is 65.2.

CBS boasts the highest primetime viewer numbers. And CBS’s SURVIVOR and TRACKER garner the most TV views from adults aged 18-49.

Movieguide® previously reported that NCIS helped CBS dominate the primetime space in 2021-22:

Led by NCIS and other mainstays, CBS is the No. 1 channel in the 2021-2022 broadcast season with 166 million minutes viewed.

“While ‘time spent’ has mainly been a streamers’ metric, it actually demonstrates the continuing strength and scale of broadcast television, and CBS in particular,” George Cheeks, President and CEO, CBS and Chief Content Officer, News and Sports, Paramount+, said. “Additionally, all this content is available on Paramount+ too, both live and on demand.”

Kelly Kahl, President, CBS Entertainment added: “No matter how you analyze the numbers – time spent, live +7, live +3 or live – CBS’ primetime schedule and our highly successful new series are resonating loudly with viewers.”


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