P'gramming heads concede many fall shows target femmes

A leading Madison Avenue media buyer declared Wednesday that the problem facing broadcast nets isn’t Nielsen, but the fact that networks have developed no programming for young men.

“The 36 new shows that have debuted to date do not target them,” Carat said in a weekly report authored by research exec Shari Anne Brill.

Still, advertisers are willing to give nets until the end of the November sweeps before demanding any make-goods because of the precipitous drop in young-adult male viewers that has driven overall numbers down.

The battle lines clearly are being drawn. The networks say there is something amiss with Nielsen measurements of men 18-24, a component of the adult 18-34 demo. Media buyers say otherwise.

Don’t blame Nielsen

“Simply put, the reason that network ratings among young men are down is because the networks haven’t offered up the programming that attracts them. Further, by blaming Nielsen, the networks are in effect shooting the messenger because they do not like the message,” Brill wrote in her report.

Earlier this week, programming toppers from the six broadcast nets conceded most of the new fall shows targeted young women, and they assumed responsibility for that.

But that doesn’t explain why returning hits are down a whopping 30%-50% among young male viewers.

So far this season, NBC’s “Friends” is down 30% in male viewers 18-24; CBS’ “Survivor” is down roughly 46% in the demo; CBS’ “CSI” is down about 45%; and Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle” is down 28%, according to NBC prexy of research and media development Alan Wurtzel.

“It is a volatile demo, yes, but things don’t change this much. I’ve never seen something like this,” Wurtzel said.

At the request of the networks, Nielsen is investigating whether something is wrong with its national sampling. Nielsen suggests its systems are operating correctly and that the drop in young men 18-24 is real.

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