Sunday, June 29, 2008

IT'S OFFICIAL: TV VIEWERS ARE OLD FOLKS


Read an item over at Variety that said that the age of the average TV viewer is now over age 50.

I think part of the reason is because people are getting older in general, and there has been a big flight of young people to other media and other avenues for getting their entertainment. Young people also have very little time to devote to watching television, as they are usually studying or working, and a lot of these professional jobs require absolutely insane hours which makes it difficult to get near any televisions. Retired people have plenty of time to devote to watching shows like Desperate Housewives, a series dominated by over-the-hill middle aged women.

No wonder young people aren't watching if this is the type of programming they must put up with! I think a big reason the average age is so high these days is that there is very little on TV that appeals to people UNDER 50 these days!

What is there on TV that appeals to young people? Well, there's MTV's reality shows starring the likes of Lauren Conrad and Heidi Montag, some of the stuff shown on the CW network, a few reality shows on cable, some of the cartoons on FOX and shows like Scrubs, and Hannah Montana. And that's about it.

The rest of these shows skew middle-aged at best (CBS shows like Survivor and How I Met Your Mother have average ages of 45) to retirement age at worst (Fox News Channel). You'd think some of these would skew younger, but they don't, and it's all because young people have fled the TV medium.

I truly believe these networks don't know how to put on shows that appeal to young people. They think the answer is to try and find the next Friends, or to put on some crap reality show featuring musical contestants or something like that. This will bring in some viewers but it will never work in the long run. What these broadcast and cable networks really need to do is put on more escapist fare.

I remember when I was a very young television viewer in the Seventies and early Eighties. There were so many shows on TV that appealed to young people, such as the Six Million Dollar Man, the Bionic Woman, the Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, CHiPs, Battlestar Galactica (the original one), The Greatest American Hero, The Dukes of Hazzard -- you name it. Not all the shows were good, but it was these escapist types of shows that young people tuned into in droves.

But here's the thing. If you want to see the kind of stuff I just talked about anywhere these days, you can't tune in to TV anymore. I mean, there's HEROES and Smallville and maybe that new Terminator show, and the Sci-Fi channel has some decent shows. But if you want real escapist fare you have to trudge down to the local theater and see The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Wanted, WALL-E, Prince Caspian and all that stuff. Quite a few of these are based on comic books that appeal to a younger crowd to begin with. In a few weeks we'll have the latest Batman flick The Dark Knight, which people will flock to as well. There will also be an animated Star Wars flick coming. You can bet young people will want to see that, too. And Judd Apatow can always be counted on to appeal to a young crowd, too.

One thing I've noticed since I began doing my column for the Film School Rejects website in particular is that there is an endless supply of movies and movie series out there right now that have passionate, young fans. You know what I mean, Star Wars, the Spider-Man movies, the Batman flicks, Harry Potter, that sort of thing. But where are the passionate young fans for TV series? I'll tell you where they are: at the rental counter or buying DVDs, because they aren't interested in the crap on TV starring these washed-up movie actors and other people.

What is there to appeal to young people on TV these days? Nicollette Sheridan? These C.S.I. shows?! I read that Jeff Goldblum is going back to TV to the Law and Order series, and young people don't care about him either. You aren't going to win young people back by relying on folks like James Woods or Jimmy Smits or even Sally Field. Same with every show Regis Philbin ever hosts. I'm sorry.

Compounding matters are the baffling decisions by network people to get rid of shows that appeal to a lot of young people, like Jericho. It's gotten to the point where young TV fans will purchase DVDs of entire TV series that were cancelled by the networks, just because there's nothing to watch on TV.

I think the fact that they're bringing back the Star Trek franchise with another outing on the big screen instead of on TV says a lot about the state of things. The movies are what appeals to young people these days, not this crap on TV!! Same with these video games they play all the time. But I guarantee you this: if there was something on TV worth tuning into, young people would make a point to watch that and would put off playing these silly video games.
Not even American Idol gets a young audience anymore, and the reason is because young people realize that show is crap. To win that show, these singers routinely have to appeal to the boring people of middle America in order to win. And they keep on hauling out these old-timers like Barry Manilow to appear on the show, and they force these kids to sing these old songs from the Seventies and Eighties that weren't any good back then, either. So young people have basically given up on that show, too.

If these networks really want a younger audience, they need to quit putting on shows starring these middle-agers, and they need to quit putting on shows about ballroom dancing. Simply put.

As I say, these TV networks need to take a page from the movies, and put on more shows based on comic books and the like.

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