A+E Networks pushes brands to include the 55-plus demo in upfront deals
A+E Networks will strike its 2021 upfront ad deals looking to count eyeballs that are often not included in TV deals, namely consumers over the age of 55.
To this end, the cable programmer, whose networks include A&E, Lifetime and History channel, will set primary audience guarantees against adults 18-plus, instead of the traditional 18-49 demographic, which doesn’t capture older audiences, says Peter Olsen, exec VP, ad sales, A+E Networks.
This comes as the average age for linear TV audiences continues to climb, averaging just under 59 years old, as younger viewers migrate to streaming options. That's up from 54.5 years old in 2017.
“Age should be part of the same discussion when we talk about diversity and inclusion,” Olsen says. “While not as drastic an issue, marketers need to represent this audience in their creative.”
“We hear brands say there’s a need to market younger and get audience who are younger, but they are taking for granted an audience that they have a huge opportunity with and who are watching traditional TV,” Olsen adds.
According to A+E, more than one in three adults in the U.S. are age 55 or over and they account for $3.4 trillion in annual spending. This group is also twice as likely to recall brands and messages from TV compared to 18-to-34-year-olds, according to A+E.
A+E will outline these plans during its virtual upfront presentation on March 3, with Olsen confirming its annual dog-and-pony show will once again be held online this year.
WarnerMedia also said its kids upfront will take place virtually on Feb. 17.
While A+E will look to strike a majority of its upfront deals against 18-plus, it is open to including traditional demographics, as well as other audience targeting options, as part of secondary guarantees.
Of course, it remains to be seen how willing brands with long-standing, favorable TV deals are to accept these new metrics.
Olsen says there’s still a vibrant, long-standing TV marketplace, but there needs to be an acknowledgement of what TV is and what it isn’t.
The influx in direct-to-consumer brands spending on TV is also helping to drive this move, as these brands don’t focus on traditional metrics and are “going to push out the legacy guys if they don’t evolve,” Olsen says.