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TV networks vs. social networks

Chris O'Brien/San Jose Mercury News/NEWSCOM

(Read caption) 300 dpi Martin Gee color illustration of media flow chart showing multiple ways a video can move from traditional TV, through networks, to handheld device, to DVD, to wireless phone. San Jose Mercury News 2008<p>

With BC-CPT-TVOPTIONS-COMMENTARY: SJ, San Jose Mercury News by Chris O'Brien<p>

tv multimedia illustration television set netflix dvd video nbc cbs abc computer internet web online cellphone wireless tivo phone flow chart kitty cat animal, internet, krttv television tv, mass media 01000000, ACE, krtentertainment entertainment, 01016000, 01026002, 01027000, TVOPTIONS, ENT, 2008, krt2008, krtnational national, krtedonly, mctillustration, sj contributed coddington gee mct mct2008 (Newscom TagID: krtillustrations011635) [Photo via Newscom]

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The median age for TV viewers hit 50 last season.

To paraphrase Variety, that means that if today’s TV audience were a person, it wouldn’t even be a part of the target demographic anymore.

For the first time since Magna Global started keeping count, less than half of network-TV viewers now fall into the coveted 18-49 demo, according to a new study. And the percentage of older viewers is likely to rise.

Don’t chalk up this shift to the graying of the baby boomers. They’re certainly passing 50, but they’re not driving this trend, says Magna analyst Steven Sternberg. It's just that younger people have other things to do.

“Traditional television is no longer necessarily the first screen for the younger set,” he says. For many, that “first screen” is now their computer.

These numbers only track live TV audiences, i.e. it doesn't count anything that’s recorded on a TiVo to watch later. But even if you factor in shows watched seven days after they aired, the median age for the networks (other than CW and Univision) drops to 49 – a measly one-year difference. (In case you were wondering, the median American is 38 years old.)

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