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TV viewers’ average age hits 50

Study: Median age outside the 18-49 demo

The broadcast networks have grown older than ever — if they were a person, they wouldn’t even be a part of TV’s target demo anymore.

According to a study released by Magna Global’s Steve Sternberg, the five broadcast nets’ average live median age (in other words, not including delayed DVR viewing) was 50 last season. That’s the oldest ever since Sternberg started analyzing median age more than a decade ago — and the first time the nets’ median age was outside of the vaunted 18-49 demo.

Fueling the graying of the networks: the rapid aging of ABC, NBC and Fox. The three nets continue to grow older, while CBS — the oldest-skewing network — has remained fairly steady.

“The median ages of the broadcast networks keep rising, as traditional television is no longer necessarily the first screen for the younger set,” Sternberg wrote.

For the just-completed 2007-08 TV season, CBS was oldest in live viewing with a median age of 54. ABC clocked in at 50, followed by NBC (49), Fox (44), CW (34) and Univision (34).

When live-plus-7 DVR viewing is factored in, the nets (except CW and Univision) drop by a year — which still reps the oldest median age ever for the nets.

Sternberg notes that Fox and CW maintain median ages that are closer to the actual age of the population. The median age for U.S. households is 38.

Among ad-supported cable nets, the news nets (along with older-skewing Hallmark Channel, Golf Channel and GSN’s daytime sked) sport the most gray, with Fox News Channel’s daytime and primetime skeds the absolute oldest, clocking in with a median age above 65. Youngest nets are the daytime skeds for Noggin and Nickelodeon, with a median age under 10.

At ABC, youngest series was “Supernanny” (with a median age of 41), while oldest was “Women’s Murder Club” (57). At CBS, youngest was “How I Met Your Mother,” “Kid Nation” and the Tuesday edition of “Big Brother,” tied at 45; oldest was “60 Minutes” (60). NBC’s youngest show was “Scrubs” (34), and oldest was “Monk” (58).

At Fox, the youngest shows were “American Dad” and “Family Guy” (29), while the oldest was “Canterbury’s Law” (55). At CW, “One Tree Hill” was youngest (26), while “Life Is Wild” was oldest (45).

Among latenight gabbers, “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” is oldest, with a median age of 54, followed by “Late Show With David Letterman” at 53. Interestingly, “Nightline” — which should conceivably be older than those talkers, is younger, at 52. ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” meanwhile, passed the 18-49 threshold for the first time, clocking in with a median of 50. “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” is getting closer at 46.

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