The average age of TV viewers

ABC has the oldest viewers according to recent data that cites a mean age.


ABC has the oldest TV viewers and TEN the youngest according to data presented earlier this month at the Screen Forever conference.

The average age of ABC viewers is 66 according to OzTAM data presented by TEN execs at a “Meet the Buyer” pitching session. The average age of TEN viewers is 20 years younger, the figures reveal.

TEN’s Head of Drama Rick Maier said, “(Former Programmer) David Mott told a story once that when we were the ’16 to 39 network’ and broadcasting The Simpsons someone came in for a pitch and gave him a skateboard.

“He said, ‘Jesus we’re in terrible trouble here’, because that’s the young end of 16 to 39.

Separate data from Nine supplied to TV Tonight indicated the average age of their viewers was 50 for Nine, 31 for GO!, 55 for GEM and 45 for 9Life, based on the calendar year.

Advertisers focus on OzTAM’s key demos 16-39, 18-49 and 25-54 year old viewers, leaving the average age of public broadcaster audiences outside all three.

“If you’re pitching to the ABC you better be aware of who might be on the other end of it,” Maier suggested. “Dr. Blake or Miss Fisher are terrific commissions for the ABC but would they work on TEN? Not a hope in hell.

“Grant Blackley who was the CEO at 10 had a wonderful expression: ‘You’ve got to fish where the fish are.’ If you’re buying programmes to broadcast, you’ve got to think where are your delivery platforms?What shows are going to actually promote these?

Maier said The Wrong Girl was commissioned knowing that The Bachelorette was going to be in front of it.

“It’s an important thing to bear in mind as program makers when pitching a show to a network. What’s the lead-in going to be? Where are my promos going to sit?” he said.

23 Responses

  1. Like others I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the end of FTA channels in Australia. But who is really at fault here? Is it the FTA channels and their penchant for woeful programming? Or us the viewers for deserting FTA and finding our fix by other means? Whatever the case the future is subscription services like Netflix. Any company that offers a pay per view service and avoid all commercials has my vote.

    David my biggest gripe concerning commercial television is their double dipping standards and a weak Federal Communications Minister twirling on his middle digit. How do they get away with those morning programs in particular showing infomercials then have the audacity to still go to a commercial break? I’d love to know your opinion on this.

  2. Whilst I bash FTA TV a lot I only domso cause people running them are out of touch! Personally I don’t believe that FTA TV networks will cease! What will cease is terrestrial TV ! Watching TV via a TV or set top box! It will all move online! The issue with that is that it won’t completely b free any more! People will need to keep paying connection costs! Existing networks will move to a subscription model in a effort to survive! Jobs will b lost as it will further fragment! Possibly mergers will happen then!

  3. I see no future for FTA tV .i see with my own four kids aged between 6 and 18 not one watches FTA .social media,streaming you tube Internet are King with kids and teens of all ages .same with pay tV my kids never watch pay tV they stream movies and once foxtel lost the EPL I got rid of It .now we have fetch TV my wife and I are the only ones that watch it .so if ABC has older viewers they will be th only ones who will survive out of all the FTA channels

  4. I believe I said this a long time ago but I will say it again.

    By 1st January 2030, I feel that free to air TV will end transmission. Pay TV a little later than that. By the 2030s Netflix, other streaming services, YouTube and the Internet in general will be much faster, much cheaper and much more accessible, thus making free to air and eventually Pay TV obsolete.

    None of these internet places have ‘non-ratings periods’, they always have new shows being aired.

  5. Wow. If these figures don’t signal the demise of FTA television I don’t know what does. It’s simple – young people don’t watch FTA TV nearly as much as they used to. Old folks are not an unlimited resource – as they, ahh, ‘move on’ in the future the Gen X’s are not going to be watching TV more than they do now. Younger people (Gen Z, Y and X) are adopters of new technology and the concept of organising your life around a networks TV schedule when shows don’t even start or finish on time, and every 7 minutes being forced to sit through 3 minutes of adverts for companies that mostly do not relate to or interest people (if you are only buying a new car every 5-7 years then seeing ads for new cars every 7 minutes is of no interest to you whatsoever), just doesn’t work for young people anymore when they can watch whatever they want, on demand, without ads. Advertisers and networks just don’t…

  6. My young nephews never watch free to air – BTW could someone please tell me why some TV hosts on live shows encourage people to tweet or hop onto Facebook to make comments during the ad breaks? Surely advertisers paying big bucks wouldn’t be impressed with comperes telling people not to pay attention o their ads?

  7. Advertisers would be more interested in the “Most Disposable Income” demo’s. Gotta fish where the fish are. However, the old fish know all the tricks.

    1. That it is a myth perpetuated by constant media reference to “baby boomers” and which ignores immigration. The most populous age segments are 25-29, 30-34, and 40-44 with each having about 7% of the population. More than 50% of the population is between 20 and 55.

  8. I don’t know why anyone would be surprised by those figures. As you get older you appreciate a bit of quality on television, and get to hate commercials more and more, specially when there are so many of them, one after another.

    So where’s an old girl to go?

  9. Can we now have an end to the posts re Seven being propped up by “old people”?
    Kids won’t be watching 7, 9 or 10 these days. The era of afternoon juveniles’ infotainment programs has gone, replaced by wall-to-wall “news”. If they are watching it would be one of the “secondary” channels – from what I have observed. 31 for GO! may support that, however most seem to be on their laptops on antisocial media.

  10. I did some research and the medium age of Australia is around 36 so given that all 5 networks are above that shows that younger demographics will resort to other means of entertainment.

    1. Your data is more than 5 years out of date. The *median* age is about 38½. However, the figures quoted for TV viewers appear to be averages not medians. In this case, the distribution is close to normal so there isn’t a big difference – the average age is a bit over 39.

      No quibble about a lot less younger people watching FTA TV.

  11. I’ve been watching 7, 9 & 10 pretty much all my life. Growing up ch 2 was considered daggy, only really started watching it when the Chasers & Rake came about. Though I did watch some of the English comedies when I was young since my parents were watching them. Now I watch quite a few shows on there.

    1. Your second point highlights an un-commented on issue with the slide. Since the introduction of multichannels, programming for younger people has increasingly moved off the main channel. So looking at the main slide is hardly a good indication of what’s happening with FTA TV as a whole.

      The existence of ABC ME and ABC 4 Kids must drive the quoted figures up a bit.

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