Grey power still a TV force to be reckoned with

While younger viewers are fragmenting, older viewers are still loyal with a big impact on Total People.


Foxtel says they don’t care how old you are, ABC is trying to “broaden” from its older viewer base and commercial networks are unashamedly chasing the ‘advertiser friendly’ 25-54 viewers.

As younger viewers continue to fragment from terrestrial broadcasting, it is older viewers who are remaining loyal, yet networks are focussed elsewhere.

Seven dumped A Place to Call Home because its expense and ratings with viewers 25-54 didn’t add up -only to see Foxtel snatch it up.

People over the age of 55 are avid viewers and their numbers wield enormous influence in Total People numbers.

On Sunday night TEN’s new hip hop drama Empire won its timeslot with viewers aged 16-39, 18-49 and 25-54. But with viewers aged 55+ it fell to 5th place behind a Monty Python special on SBS. As a result it averaged just 377,000 viewers in Total People.

It’s partly the reason why networks are openly expressing Demos as their preferred target despite media reportage still focussed on Total People ratings (and Overnights, at that).

Gallipoli, which one might expect to be appreciated by older Australians, also struggled last week. It was the #44th most watched show with 16-39 year olds, and #37th with both 18-49s and 25-54s. But it finished the week at #84 with older viewers -again impacting on its Total People numbers.

Even the later timeslot was not the sole reason for Gallipoli‘s performance. Other shows such as Q&A, Winter, Scott and Bailey, Fortitude and NCIS: LA fared much better in a similar timeslot.

In the Reality genre My Kitchen Rules was out of the top 10 entirely with older viewers last week, with the highest ranking at #12. By contrast The Block‘s best was #41 and TEN’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! simulcast way behind at #95.

So what were the week’s top shows according to viewers 55+? The top 5 all aired on ABC on the weekend: New Tricks, Grantchester, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, ABC News Sunday and ABC News Saturday.

Other ABC shows popular with older viewers include Australian Story, Four Corners, 7:30, Catalyst, Broadchurch and David Attenborough’s Conquest of the Skies.

The most popular shows with older viewers on each network were:

Seven News, My Kitchen Rules, Downton Abbey, Better Homes and Gardens, My France with Manu.

Nine News, A Current Affair, Hot Seat, ICC Cricket World Cup, The Block.

TEN Eyewitness News, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Bold & the Beautiful, Family Feud (simulcast).

Walking Through History, Who Do You Think You Are?, Insight, Gourmet Farmer Afloat, Simon Reeve’s Sacred Rivers.

And they didn’t care at all for Good Game, The Feed, Benidorm Bastards, Snog Marry Avoid, Sons of Anarchy, America’s Got Talent, Story Club or The Late Show with David Letterman -all languishing at 10,000 viewers or less in 55+.

Based on Overnight rankings 22 Feb – 28 Feb.

© OzTAM Pty Limited 2015. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM.


21 Responses

  1. I will be 55 in March; I’m typing this up on a Galaxy Note, have Netflix, Hulu + Yahoo Screen along with the knowledge of how to change that access to also use BBC iPlayer and etc., I don’the care what time a show airs as if it is not on one of those streaming services, my PVR recrds it. See being born in 1960 also means that when punk boomed I was 15, have been using the net since my 30’s (message boards) and was one of the ones who gave ratings to Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure, Picket Fences, The X-Files and etc. So shows like House Of Cards, Girls, Orange Is The Black and similar. As the population ages so does the fact that many of us are technologically enabled, we’be been at it for years, so we are drifting away from traditional TV just as much, don’the underestimate that.

    Advertisers don’the want us simply because we are set in what we buy, for instance the razor we use…

  2. But it seems that networks love changing the goalposts depending on how well their shows perform. All three networks are supposed to be targeting 25-54 demos, but they will happily bring up other groups that their show performs well in.

    And I don’t see the ABC is so against having an older audience than the other channels. They don’t even advertise.

    Most ABC produced dramas and most UK imports that they broadcast have a certain style about them that skews them in favour of older demographics. As for Hiding. That show is so stupid and won’t help bring them a younger demographic.

  3. 2015 is indeed shaping up to be an interesting year. One suspects the FTA networks will again start chasing the older demographic to shore up their total audience. With 26 reality shows of various genres scheduled across all networks this year, only the best will survive. The Block’s good ratings, last quarter 2015 also masked the fact the audience was changing. The low ratings gained by the rest of the top 20 were put down to “viewer fatigue” or poor programmes. MKR’s stellar ratings this year, compared to the rest of the ratings, tell me the FTA’s are in trouble if their reality offerings fail. Soon programmes with 750,000 viewers will be classified as a success! Trouble is we reluctantly watch imported drama on the commercial stations because of the “ducks and drakes” played by programmers. Us oldies can get our drama fill on the ABC , from streaming services or import dvds issued…

  4. The advertisers are not interested in trying to target those with the most available to spend – 55+ kids left home – because, in general, most of them don’t actually spend a great deal, except for the occasional holiday. Asvertisers want access to those who spend the most, the so-called “grocery buyers” sector. Week in, week out they’re buying food to feed the family, plus all the various cleaning and health-related products. Then there are clothes for growing kids, toys, new furniture, extra TVs, bigger fridge, computers/tablets/phones, home reno/extension, new swimming pool, new car to take the kids and their friends to sport/the park/the beach, another new car because little Jimmy/Janey is now 17, etc, etc.

    The other major target group are the young discretionary spenders – people mostly in their 20’s who are still living with their parents but have a full-time job. They pay…

    1. The other major target group are the young discretionary spenders – people mostly in their 20’s who are still living with their parents but have a full-time job. They pay bugger-all rent/board, no rates, no utilities, no insurance, regularly borrow mum or dad’s car and prob don’t pay for petrol or servicing or repairs, go out heaps, and buy all sorts of expensive crap because they want it and they can.

      If I was a media buyer focussing on one age group, it would be 25-54 too.

  5. Just a general observation from some of the over 55s I’ve come across and by no means I’m commenting on all over 55s but regardless of whether they have some knowledge on how to use the internet or not they have come accustomed to the idea that to watch a particular tv show they need to make sure they make themselves available at the time the program starts to watch it live. Some long term habits are hard to break and that’s why that market shouldn’t be ignored. That’s another reason why the commercial networks are getting it wrong with late start times for dramas and not starting shows on time but rather 9.12pm ish for example.

  6. It’s the 20 and 30-somethings who don’t have kids who are more likely to spend their money and live week to week. The 20&30-somethings I have worked with who don’t have kids spend $100+ just on lunch and coffee at work and are more likely to respond to fast food ads, technology ads, etc while the ones who do have kids are more frugal on spontaneous spending like that – but then are more likely to notice ads more applicable to them eg – toy sales, clothes, supermarkets, etc.

    Once you get to over 55, many are more likely to hold onto the money they have and save for travelling and/or the future as is the case with my parents – they are far less likely to respond to / or even notice advertising. My parent for example when they watch TV live mute the ads and always say they don’t look at them.

    1. It’s probably not the best way to judge how 55+ spend their money purely based on 2 people. My step/parents are voracious spenders, always up to date with the latest phones, tablets, laptops, TVs, sound systems, have Foxtel, buy DVDs & digital music and are very influenced by advertising. One set of parents went to Hawaii because Sunrise filmed from there. They are also used to the traditional way of watching TV compared to Gen Y & X. All their friends are the same. So whilst some 55+ might be saving their pennies, there are certainly others that the advertisers are overlooking.

  7. Older viewer aren’t “still a force” they have become a force will continue to grow the population ages (just as their power in politics will grow). It’s just that they don’t buy as many fashionable consumer goods as much and are easier to reach, so advertisers won’t pay a premium to reach them.

    If the networks are so worried about people talking only about the top 20 shows on overnight total viewers then why do they keep banning the publishing of other Oztam data? Publish a table of the 18-49 and total viewers for every slot in prime time and that will change instantly.

    The ABC has a duty to serve the entire population and have been showing specifically shows for over 55s on Friday and Saturdays for a long time. It’s Sunday and Monday lineups appeal to that audience too. Scott is worried about this and chasing cooler younger viewers in competition with the commercial…

  8. In my humble opinion, it makes business sense to also focus on the 55+ as a few people pointed out, they have more disposable income. I don’t understand why the so-called advertisers wouldn’t focus a bit more on them. What’s the point of dangling your products in front of the younger demo when some of them can’t even afford to pay their bills?

  9. The answer’s obvious – Soylent Green!

    But seriously, I don’t know why TV networks are so obsessed with chasing young viewers. They just don’t watch TV. They spend their entire time emailing photos of their genitalia to each other and making inane posts on Twitter. And they don’t have any money.

    What if I told you there was a target audience with the following attributes?

    A) Demographically the largest segment of the population
    B) The wealthiest demographic
    C) The group which spends the most money on legally purchasing entertainment
    D) The group which spends the most time watching TV and movies

    That’s right – that group is the Baby Boomers. You’d think marketing people would understand these concepts. But that’s what happens when you hire 24 year old hipsters as your marketers.

  10. ‘advertiser friendly’ 25-54 viewers….Really?…mortgages/personal and credit card debt…school/uni fees…cost of running a couple of cars…against 55+…most mortgages paid off…kids mostly left home…spending on themselves…I would have thought we would be the advertisers darlings….
    Seems they do not understand who has the spending power.

  11. Foxtel doesn’t care how old you are as 90% of their income comes from subscriptions, not advertisers. And 100% of ABC’s income comes from the governmemnt – so they don’t care either. The networks don’t have that luxury.

  12. Oh great David. Here come all the posts “the focus on demos is dumb. The networks shoukd be trying to attract as many viewers as possible” posts….3…2…1….LOL
    It’s not the networks fault. They are simply reacting to what advertisers want. They are the ones that pay the bills- and money talks. If the networks could monetize the over 55s and have the advertisers pay for those viewers I’m sure they would – there is a lot of them – and they are traditional TV viewers.
    But the advertsiers don’t pay for over 55s. So if you don’t like the networks focusing on under 55 – taje it up with the advertising industry – not the networks. The ad buyers are the ones they pay for your shows you watch. But good luck trying to win them over…CBS is trying to convince Madison Ave that all its 55+ are worth something – with zero success thus far
    Foxtel doesn’t care how old…

    1. lol… the trouble stems from people with dubious qualifications having endless ‘confabs’ and using nebulous terms like ‘monetize’, whilst all the time not realising that the whole argument is as simple as JimboJones puts it above…

      1. Take your argument up with the advertisers, not the networks

        To answer Jimbo’s question

        “I don’t know why TV networks are so obsessed with chasing young viewers”

        It’s simple – because those are the viewers that advertisers pay to reach.

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