Fox May Have Won the Season in Adults 18-49, But Network Finished Last Among Older Adults – Again

Find the median age for each broadcast channel’s viewers here

tony maglio ratings report banner

Led by Super Bowl LIV and two seasons of “The Masked Singer,” Fox scored a huge ratings win this season. The network beat its broadcast competition among viewers aged 18-49, which is the key demographic for advertisers, for the first time in eight years. But Fox actually finished last among the Big 4 broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC) with older adults, those aged 50 and above, for the 2019-20 season.

What a difference one year (of age) makes. OK, so really, it is just that Fox was dominant among younger adults. That’s pretty typical for the network. Fox has finished fourth among adults 50-plus for the past eight TV seasons.

In other words, Fox’s business is not booming among baby boomers.

By the way, NBC had won the previous three September-to-May seasons — and five of the past six — in the key demo, adults 18-49. NBC finished second this season in that category and among viewers 50 and older.

Readers of this column can probably guess which broadcast network finished in first place among older adults: Yes, CBS claimed that demo by a landslide — again. That kind of loyal tune-in among people 50-plus is what handed CBS its 12th straight total-viewer victory for the traditional television season.

NBC was pretty far behind CBS in that demo, with ABC just barely edging Fox to stay out of the basement among older viewers.

Below are the September-to-May ratings and rankings among adults 50-plus, according to Nielsen. The ratings include one week of delayed viewing.

  1. CBS: 5.3
  2. NBC: 4.0
  3. ABC: 3.3
  4. Fox: 3.2

CBS is home to “NCIS,” the 2019-2020 season’s most-watched show and most-watched drama (averaging 15.3 million viewers per episode), as well as “Young Sheldon,” the season’s most-watched comedy (11.4 million viewers).

Fox, the home to a bunch of young-skewing animated series like “The Simpsons,” “Bob’s Burgers” and “Family Guy,” has the youngest median-age viewer of the Big 4 broadcast channels, at 53.8-years-old. That may seem old, but it’s not.

CBS viewers have a median age of 63.0. Then NBC, at 58.8, is just a (gray) hair older than ABC’s 58.7-year-old median-age viewer.

If those numbers all sound surprisingly high to you, keep in mind that these are simply the median ages of those who elect to watch Big 4 broadcast shows ON broadcast television. With young viewers flocking to digital, the actual median ages of a viewer for each network’s programming would be younger.

Age may be only a number, but Fox’s good numbers stop above a certain age.

Tony Maglio

Tony Maglio

TV Editor • • Twitter: @tonymaglio


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