TV’s drawn-out death scene continues with new demographic data
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TV’s drawn-out death scene continues with new demographic data

It seems like traditional TV has something new to worry about every month. This month, it’s the age of its audiences, and it adds yet more proof that Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD) services are primed to usurp TV as viewers (and, therefore, advertisers) mode of choice. At least, that’s what a report from the New York Times, published on Monday, suggests.

Netflix’s share price is up by an incredible 70% so far this year

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Source: Yahoo Finance

The Times’ report, of course, applies only to American TV – but there’s little to suggest it doesn’t apply in other geographic regions (albeit – to what extent, who knows). The reason for believing what’s true in America is true globally is two-fold: first, American television is ubiquitous, meaning we’re all watching the same shows; and second, the Times’ findings fit in with well-established trends over content consumption.

In its report, the New York Times researched the median age of audience members for the U.S.’s “top 10 entertainment shows during the 2017-2018 television season.” Spoiler: they are far older than you might imagine. Check out the details on the graph below:

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What’s truly surprising about the above is that these numbers don’t seem to tally up with the shows intended demographics. Take, for example, The Big Bang Theory. It’s a show about a group of geeky 30-something academics whose interests run to roleplaying games and superhero comics, and their difficulties interacting with the world, work, and women. It makes frequent references to popular video games, current storylines in comic book movies, and other areas that – statistically speaking – skew towards a younger audience. Yet, the median age of The Big Bang Theory viewers is 56.2 years old. This, of course, has important ramifications for advertising, and for the future.

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It’s just common sense to realize that a medium which can only reach an age range of 50+ is not suitable for advertising a wide variety of products. TV’s demographic difficulties should, therefore, quickly translate into diminishing ad spend. TV has another problem with the average age of its viewers though – they’re not the future.

TV’s inability to capture the attention of the young will, inevitably, lead to its obsolescence unless it’s addressed. There is nothing to suggest TV becomes suddenly more interesting at the age of 50 – rather, it looks like younger viewers have generational preferences for streaming video. If that turns out to be the case, then TV will one day go the way of the dinosaur, when the last people old enough to be interested in it die out.

Dominion holds Netflix, as well as Amazon and Alphabet (the parent company of YouTube) in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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