This is not an idle query, writes Scott Collins in the Los Angeles Times
“The TV industry, like much of corporate America, chases youth. That pursuit has a major impact on programming. It helps explain why a low-rated show such as NBC’s “Community” can keep going (and going, and going …) while older-skewing shows are usually toast. Even if they have more total viewers.
“So now you know why “Harry’s Law,” the legal drama with sexagenarian Kathy Bates, is no longer on the air. NBC executives said as much when they canceled the show.
“Most TV networks are chasing viewers in the “demo,” or the demographic ages 18 to 49 as measured by Nielsen. But how and why did that happen? And is that even rational?
“The first question is easier to answer. During the early years of commercial TV, Nielsen estimated total audiences. It sounds ridiculous in our tech-savvy world, but back then Nielsen’s measurements depended largely on written diaries that members of each household in the survey were obligated to fill out. That’s how we know, for example, that 73-million people watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan’s show in February 1964. It’s also why network TV aimed for mass audiences and maintained conventions such as a “family hour,” when parents and kids could sit down together to watch shows. This led critics to charge that executives were programming a “lowest common denominator” medium — a “vast wasteland,” in the timeless phrase of former FCC chief Newton Minow — that weeded out minority views and tastes. But it was how TV worked for 40 years. Continue reading “Why youth obsession is bad for business”