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article imageOp-Ed: If It's Good TV, They Will Come, Demographics be Damned

By Sandy Sand     Jan 11, 2009 in Entertainment
Slow as they’ve been, the television industry caught up to me. For years I’ve asked why all the focus on youth-oriented programming, when it’s geezers and geezerettes who inherited the geezers money, who have all the liquid cash; not teens.
Television executives are beginning to rethink all their programming that for years has been focused on the teeny-beeny crowd.
Driven by the philosophy of “if advertisers grab ‘em while they’re young, they will have lifetime buyers of their goods,” is proving not to be true.
Interests, programming and products are changing too rapidly.
Just because someone started out buying Crest or Colgate toothpaste as a teen doesn’t mean that by the time he hits the demarcation point of 40, he’s not hunting down Sensodyne. He was told to floss and didn’t.
I don’t seem to fall into any demographic, leading me to believe that surely I’m from another planet.
I’m not in the demographic for “24” lovers -- the slightly above teeny boppers status -- yet it’s on my three favorite shows list.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that when I watch it tonight after it’s been on a year’s hiatus, I will have lost interest in the daring-do, save the world escapades of Jack Bauer.
That’s what happened with “The Sopranos.” That show’s seasons were so short and so sporadic that a lot of us lost interest.
ABC does the same thing with “Boston Legal,” possibly one of the most brilliantly written, kookie-themed shows since “Laugh-In.” But, as a fan, I never know when it will be on. There is no consistency to when it’s broadcast.
As one network exec said, after trying for years to find shows that would attract the 18 to 49 demographic in the mode of NBC’s highly successful “Friends,” they suddenly woke up to the fact that the codgers and codgers-in-waiting were, over time, leaving network viewing en masse.
“People of other ages slowly drifted away to their own niche shows on cable TV or other media,” one executive said.
I don’t know what “other media” he was referring to, unless people suddenly remembered they know how to read and went back to borrowing novels from the library. Maybe he meant renting movies.
I can count on three finger of one hand the network shows I look forward to watching: N.C.I.S., Boston Legal and 24.
On the nights I’m too tired to read, I’d lose my mind if it weren’t for the cable learning channels like Discovery, History and Science.
Not exactly what I’d call “real” entertainment, but in their own way they are entertaining and I learn something at the same time.
In fact, I watch so little broadcast TV, it wasn’t until last week that I realized “24” will be back tonight when I saw an ad for it on Fox while watching some sporting event.
Although they say their awareness that the public outside the 18 to 49 demographic has largely moved away from network broadcasting, and they are trying to come up with shows to fill that void, they have not, nor will they forget their younger demo viewers.
And why is it an 18 to 49 graphic? I don’t know too many 49-year-olds (actually I don’t know any) who have many or any interests in common with a 25-year-old.
While both groups are dealing with life, family and work, each is coming at it from vastly different perspectives.
It doesn’t seem unreasonable that a happy middle ground can be found.
They will have to get away from the notion that spending less to produce shows will gain them more. A plethora of so-called reality shows isn’t going to cut it.
Hollywood is filled with talented writers looking for a desk and chair where they can produce some worthwhile scripts.
Sure, it will cost more to bring back the likes of The West Wing, but in the long run it might be more profitable, too.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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