If You’re Over The Age of Forty-Nine, Television Networks And Sponsors Don’t Care About You

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If you were watching television, Thursday February 6, 2014, you may have caught comedian, Jay Leno as he bid a tearful goodbye to his audience after 22 years of hosting The Tonight Show.  It wasn’t his decision to retire.  At 63 years of age, Leno still has the drive, determination and energy to continue on in his current position.  It was NBC, the network that “forced” Leno to make his exit from the show because sponsors had put the pressure on to bring in a younger host.  That position now rests in Jimmy Fallon’s hands.

This wasn’t the first time that Leno had been forced out of his position by NBC and its sponsors.  In 2009, they ousted Leno to bring in the red-headed late night talk show host, Conan O’Brien.  In 2010, when ratings were plummeting, NBC and its sponsors brought back Leno who had been given his own 10:00 p.m. slot show.  O’Brien couldn’t hold the audiences for the 11:35 p.m. Tonight Show and was forced out of the show, leaving bitterly while blaming Leno.  Now, Leno has also been ousted from NBC with no alternative slot or show being offered to him and having done nothing wrong to have been put on the chopping block.

O’Brien couldn’t help himself in getting in one more shot at Leno. Brien said in his opening monologue on Conan Thursday night.

“The Olympics start airing tonight on NBC. It’s very cool. That’s right, NBC has the Olympics. It’s a big deal,” O’Brien said in his opening monologue on Conan Thursday night. “NBC will finally get to show somebody who is OK with passing the torch.”

O’Brien then, openly bragged that he used only one shot but, “it was a good one.”

The real worry behind this move by NBC and the pressure from its sponsor is that if you’re over the age of 49, you are not in control of what it is that we’ll see on television. The sponsors and networks don’t care what you like to watch.  because they’re aiming for the 18 to 49 year old crowd of viewers.  If you’re above or below that age group, you’re not on their radar and they could care less what you want.  If they can’t sell you something, you’re useless to them.  At least, that’s the message that they’re giving out.  .

Whether you are a Fallon fan or a Leno fan, doesn’t matter.  If you don’t fit into the demographics the sponsors are shooting for, you don’t count.

Ever notice how the shows that we watch are primarily filled with main characters from the target age group and anyone above that age, is only a secondary character?

Are you wondering why there are so many reality shows that are based around the young, pretty and fit group?

Feeling somewhat ancient because you’re finding yourself tossing the remote control to the side, saying “there’s nothing to watch”?  You’re not alone.  If you’re above the 50 year old mark, you’re not important to the networks and especially, their sponsors so, you may as well go and read a book in your rocking chair.  It’s the young crowds that they’re after because according to their studies, it’s that group that spends money on their products. Unless of course, its the manufacturers of Depends or Tena or a Reverse Mortgage company.   You might want to look into Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune then or one of the news stations.  That’s where your target is aimed.  According to the sponsors, you’re ancient, don’t have money and if you do, won’t spend it.  There’s little air-time for shows for you.

What I find ironic is that the majority of those in the so-called targeted age group, are either busy with their own pursuits and not watching tv or, they’re raising families and have little time to watch it.  Either that, or their tvs are tuned into cartoons for their kids.  More than that, those in the bullseye group, are often recording shows to watch later and fast-forward through the commercials, watch it via downloaded versions or are texting or tending to kids throughout the sponsor’s messages.  If you have an 18 to 29 year old still at home, it’s likely that you can attest to this idea.

So, if you’re out of the targeted sponsor age range, it’s seemingly a wonderful idea to learn how to stream, download or watch good programming from your computer or tablet.  For $8.00/month, Netflix offers a pretty decent set of choices, others have said Amazon Prime is a great alternative (though I don’t know the cost at this time).  . There are many sources of great tv that only require a computer or tablet and,a single HDMI cord (ask any kid as they know how to do this) which will connect your computer or tablet to your television where you can have your choice of some great shows.  Otherwise, you’ll have to be content with re-runs of Friends or Seinfeld endlessly.  You could also save a small fortune by either downsizing your cable/satellite packages or, getting rid of them altogether.

Sponsors, networks and anyone else involved in television programming, you’d better listen up.  Those over the age of 50, do spend money. As a matter of fact, while our purchases may be less frequent than the younger crowds, when we spend, we spend on large ticket items.  We also watch television and we are the ones who actually sit through your advertisements.  So, let Leno go.  Keep Jimmy Fallon.  He is entertaining.  The question is, can he keep the audience that has stuck with the show that Johnny Carson put on the map and those of us over 50, grew up with and kept watching?  Perhaps, in a year’s time, you might be wishing that you hadn’t have made this change because the show has become defunct?  Only time will tell how many of the 18 to 49 year olds tune into that time slot show.

While we’re on the topic, Conan can sit back and take his cocky pot shots but, he’s best to watch his own neck for the chopping block looms on him as well.  Buddy, you’re over the targeted age group, yourself.  At 50 years of age, O’Brien…you’re likely not far behind Leno.  Wonder what Leno will have to say when the axe hits your neck?

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