Network TV Viewers Get Slightly Older

CBS Has Oldest Couch Potatoes, CW the Youngest

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Broadcast prime time is getting older. For the fifth consecutive year, Magna Global's Median Age Report found the median age of viewers who watch the top five networks from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. increased, from 47 to 48 in the 2006-2007 broadcast season.
CBS's '60 Minutes' once again keeps its title as oldest show on network prime time TV with an apropos median age of 60 this year.
CBS's '60 Minutes' once again keeps its title as oldest show on network prime time TV with an apropos median age of 60 this year.

That puts the median age a full 10 years higher than the U.S. household average of 37. The report was tabulated by Steve Sternberg, Magna's senior VP-audience analysis.

CBS is still the oldest network, with a median age of 53 (from 52 last year); NBC remains second at 49, the same as last year; ABC is third at 48 (up from 46); Fox is fourth at 42 (up from 39); and the CW was the only network to get younger, at just 32 compared with last year's 34. (The 2006-2007 season was the first year Magna tracked the CW on an individual basis, as previous years were based on averages of the WB and UPN.)

Expect CBS to stay on top
Although key CBS shows such as "NCIS" and "Cold Case" have managed to bring the network's median age down gradually over the years, Mr. Sternberg said in the report he doesn't expect the network to surrender its crown anytime soon. "CBS managed to lower its percentage of 65-plus viewers, with a corresponding increase in its percent composition of adults 50 to 64. So despite actually getting younger, the network's average median age stayed over 50. With few new shows next season and its youngest-skewing series 'Survivor' and 'Amazing Race' continuing to age, we don't expect CBS's average median age to lower next season. Thirteen of the CBS's 14 oldest-skewing series, all with median ages of 53 or older, will return in the fall."

As for the oldest show on network prime time? CBS's "60 Minutes" once again keeps its title with an apropos median age of 60 this year. Its network sibling "Crimetime Saturday" ties for second with NBC's "Dateline," each of which reached an average audience of 57 last year. ABC's highly rated "Dancing With the Stars" also reaches the upper ranks of the 25-to-54 demo, with a median age of 54 tuning into its Monday-night episodes.

Youngest-skewing shows
On the younger side, the CW has the top two youngest-skewing shows on broadcast prime: "One Tree Hill" (26) and "Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll" (27). "America's Next Top Model" shares third place with Fox's "American Dad," each of which attracted viewers with a median age of 28.

Making the biggest leaps in ages over the five-year time period were the CW's "Seventh Heaven," which finished its run this year with a median viewer age of 45, a full 10 years older than the 35 it attracted in 2002-2003. Fox's "24" saw a gradual nine-year increase from 39 in 2002 to 48 this season, as did ABC's "George Lopez," which went from 37 to 46 this year.

Few shows have pulled off ratings facelifts over the years, with NBC's "The Office," CBS's "How I Met Your Mother," and the CW's "One Tree Hill" and "Top Model" the only programs able to bring their median ages down by two years.
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