Nielsen’s Monday ratings finally came out after a protracted delay, which perhaps explains why I looked them over a little more closely than usual. And what stood out was the pronounced if seldom-mentioned older skew of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
One would think the considerable overlap between the adults 18-49 and 25-54 age brackets would be enough to keep the swings between those groups within a relatively modest range. But the disparity in viewing habits separating the poles of those segments — 18-24 and 50-54 — is enough to produce extremely wide deviations.
This is true practically across the board, with every series that aired on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox on Monday posting markedly higher numbers among 25-54 than 18-49. The only exceptions to buck that trend were the CW’s “Gossip Girl”-“One Tree Hill” block.
Yet the jump on “Dancing” — from a 4.8 rating among adults 18-49 to a 6.2 in 25-54, or nearly 30% — was the night’s most noteworthy. By way of comparison, the latest “American Idol’s” 25-54 rating was a more modest 21% bump over 18-49 (10.1 to 8.3), while “The Biggest Loser” exhibited a mere 11% improvement, suggesting that the preoccupation with fat knows no boundaries.
Then again, the majority of “Dancing’s” 20.3 million viewers actually fall within the 50-plus category, which would be no big deal if older eyeballs weren’t still treated like pariahs on Madison Ave., despite the occasional lip-service that’s paid to the notion of showing a little more respect toward those eligible for AARP membership.
So what does the 18-24 vs. 50-54 schism prove? Only that Steely Dan got it right with that old song, “Hey Nineteen”: No, we really can’t “Dance” together.