Prime-time TV is an aging medium. According
to Nutley, N.J.-based media research firm Media Dynamics Inc., the average viewer
who watches prime-time TV on NBC, ABC and CBS is 57, while the average age of
the total population is 38.
Adults between the ages of 50 and 64 spend
191 hours per month watching traditional (rather than time-shifted) TV,
according to Nielsen, and those over 65 watch more than 223 hours per month. Teens,
by contrast, spend 84 hours per month watching TV.
Advertisers shouldn’t abandon broadcast TV
efforts altogether in favor of reaching the ever-desirable millennial audience
on digital and cable video channels, experts say. “A lot of advertisers who are
spending billions of dollars are still buying the broadcast networks’ prime time,”
says Ed Papazian, CEO of Media Dynamics. “It’s not a question of media reasons.
They’re not buying them for reach or demographics. They’re buying them for
image, to be in the big shows. … The difference now is that, over the years,
the networks have lost their high ratings and they’ve also aged.”
marketers are focused on the millennial audience, and those who get tunnel
vision will run the risk of alienating an older demographic that still has
significant purchasing power, says Ken Kraemer, COO and head of product at New
York-based creative marketing agency Deep Focus, where he has worked with
clients including Pepsi and Nestle. “TV is not going anywhere, and it’s still a
great reach mechanism with really broad demographics tuning in at different
times for different things,” he says. “I can’t name a client that isn’t
concerned about how to appeal and how to recapture the imagination of
millennials, and even Gen Z beyond that, but meanwhile, there’s this whole
audience of 50-plus who’s waiting to be marketed to on their own terms and in
their own language.
TV programming has adjusted to reflect
changes in the prime-time viewing audience, and advertisers must do the same, Kraemer
says. “The days of the 30-minute family sitcom that we knew in the ’80s and ’90s
are over, in a lot of ways. You’re seeing a lot more of these crime dramas and
that sort of thing, which seems to be more appealing to this audience.” While
ads’ creative should skew older to suit the viewing audience’s preferences,
advertisers should continue to integrate digital elements, as they would when
targeting millennials, Kraemer says. “We
advise brands to think about this generation as connected digitally. We see a
big use of social, especially the Pinterests of the world, in this age set, and
they’re much more willing to [listen to] advertising and then advocate or
spread that message.”
This article was originally published in the May 5, 2015, issue of Marketing News Weekly.