Find the median age for viewers of each broadcast network this season vs. last
Broadcast TV is for folks with more salt than pepper in their hair — especially during this oddball season, it seems. In a study of the median age of viewers for the broadcast networks thus far this season, TheWrap found that usually youth-skewing CW’s median-age viewer is 58.3 years old — a whopping six-and-a-half years older than last season. Meanwhile, ABC’s own median-age viewer nudged up a bit and Fox’s increased by nearly one year.
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Some of that can be explained away by a continuing shift to digital viewing by the younger Americans. That’s especially true of The CW’s audience, which tunes in for a heavily comic-book-inspired lineup that includes “The Flash,” “Riverdale,” “Supergirl” and “Batwoman.” Since its 2006 launch, the network has also boasted the youngest median viewer of all the broadcast networks.
Another factor is the overabundance of reruns in the first few months of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic’s production shutdowns. That trend also disproportionately impacted The CW, which barely ran any original primetime programming until last month. It is likely that a not-insignificant number of older Nielsen panelists tune in to their local news on The CW and just leave the TV on the network into primetime. When the millennials don’t offset that from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. (because of the encores), the median age inches up.
The good news is that the network’s viewership is nudging younger again in recent weeks. Since The CW began to debut its original content, the network’s median-age viewer has fallen by about one-third.
Meanwhile, some networks have found some version of the Fountain of Youth this season. NBC’s median-age audience has ticked down a hair from last season, and CBS saw its median-age viewer decline by nearly two years.
It’s important to note two things:
1. We’re looking at Live + 7 Day data, so these median ages include those who watch programming via their DVRs — otherwise the ages would likely skew even older.
2. While our data sets for both seasons have the same start date, this season cuts off after the first week in February 2021 while we have — and are including — statistics through the entirety of Nielsen’s 2019-20 television season.
Below are the current-season’s (Sept. 21, 2020 – Feb. 7, 2021) median-age viewer per broadcast network, ranked from youngest to oldest. As you can see, Fox is the youngest-skewing network — not The CW. NBC isn’t all that far off either.
Fox: 54.7 years old (+2% from last season’s 53.8 years old)
The CW: 58.3 (+13% from last season’s 51.8 years old)
NBC: 58.5 (-1% from last season’s 58.8 years old)
ABC: 59.0 (+1% from last season’s 58.6 years old)
CBS: 61.2 (-3% from last season’s 63 years old)
The traditional 2019-20 TV season, as set and measured by Nielsen, started on Sept. 23, 2019 and ended on May 20, 2020. That means COVID-19 impacted the end of the prior season in certain cases.
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