By Published on .

TV viewers are growing older and taking the median age of their favorite programs with them.

That's the conclusion of the latest study from BJK&E on the median age of TV programs.

Angela Lansbury's "Murder, She Wrote" on CBS and Martin Lawrence's "Martin" on Fox are, respectively, the oldest and the youngest skewing programs on TV, according to the latest Median Age Analysis study from the Bozell unit.

The study cites "Martin's" median age as 24.1; "Murder, She, Wrote," 57.8. Fox is the youngest skewing network, 29.6, while CBS is the oldest, 50.0.

Median age is the point at which half the people in the category are younger and half are older. The Median Age Analysis study, performed last month, used Nielsen Media Research's narrow demographic descriptions to determine the median age for TV programs in the last quarter of 1994.

"The median age provides just one number to advertisers to help them evaluate their target audience. It adds another perspective and it tightens the buy," said Steve Sternberg, senior partner at BJK&E.

The BJK&E study shows that despite claims by the networks that they are aiming at skewing younger, all four have gotten older since 1991. Compared with last season, though, CBS and NBC got older while Fox got younger. ABC remained the same.

ABC's median age for fourth quarter 1994 was 38.3; NBC's, 42.8.

All of Fox's programs had median ages less than 40, while CBS' shows all had median ages more than 40. Of 16 shows on the four networks with median ages under 30, 81% were on Fox.

The median age gap of 20 years between the youngest and oldest network has never been larger. (Last year's gap was 17.5 years.)

Mr. Sternberg said one reason the median ages of most shows increased is that viewers are aging with the programs. "*`Murphy Brown's" median age is up because its audience is getting older, the show isn't necessarily adding new viewers," he said. This is the case as well, he said, with daytime television, which also increased in median age in 1994.

One surprising development, Mr. Sternberg said, "is [that] when `Frasier' moved from Thursday to Tuesday opposite `Home Improvement,' many expected it to fail. But a look at each show's median age reveals that `Frasier,' at 40.5, skews significantly older than `Home Improvement's' 33.6. So they appeal to largely different viewers. And while `Frasier' hasn't really cut into `Home Improvement's' audience, it has improved the time period for NBC and increased overall television usage in its half-hour."

According to the Median Age Analysis study, the most successful new series of the season, "ER," had a median age less than 40. Throughout most of the fourth quarter "Chicago Hope," touted as a major competitor for "ER," held the same time slot but had a median age of about 50, so that the two shows never had to fight each other for audience share.

Most Popular
In this article: