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Y2K bug hits TV’s key demo

B'cast nets, cablers stay away from untimely skeins

For TV execs, the year 2000 wasn’t just the start of the millennium. It’s the first year of relevance for the 18-34 demo.

All the broadcast nets and ad-supported cablers now schedule on the assumption that the 18-34 aud couldn’t care less about anything that happened before Y2K.

The last hit primetime series that took place in an earlier time is “That ’70s Show,” which almost doesn’t count because its jazzed-up style is as contemporary as any topical sitcom. Before that, the last broadcast hit set in another era was “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” (which ran from 1993 to ’98), whose aud consisted mainly of older viewers.

NBC’s “American Dreams,” the family drama set in 1963, scratched out a three-year primetime run 2002-05, but it never came close to being a hit.

Jack MacKenzie, senior VP of Frank Magid Associates, says period pieces often serve as escapism for people who want to recapture an earlier time in their lives.

“But young people tend not to want that kind of escapism,” MacKenzie says. “They want something more relevant, and that means more contemporary.”