There’s a strong message now being circulated on social media. It’s a photo of acclaimed actress, Kathy Bates - now in her mid 60s - beneath a message to NBC Television: “You’re cancelling us because our viewers are too old?”
It’s about “Harry’s Law,” one of NBC’s highest-rated shows being cancelled after two seasons. Seven to nine million people were watching but very few between the ages of 18 and 49 - television’s most coveted audience.
In 2003, educators, marketing and advertising executives and media big shots sat down at USC’s Annenberg School to hold a free-wheeling conference on what is considered the holy grail for mass media, the 18 to 49 year-old audience.
It’s no secret that it’s a young person’s world and the rest of us are just living in it, but the media marketing strategy around those numbers amounts to “The Tyranny of 18 to 49: American Culture Held Hostage,” as Neil Gabler, a senior fellow at the school’s Lear Center put it.
It’s not the 18 to 49 years olds who tyrannize, it’s the advertising fiction that older audiences are hardened in their choices and that their biggest earning and spending years are behind them.
Older folks comprise 38 percent of the population. In 20-years, it will be 47%. Older folks control 70 percent of the nation’s assets; 50 percent of the disposable income. And they watch more television than any other age group. What is it about these numbers that advertisers don’t get?
It puts television in the business of ignoring - even driving away - its most devoted viewers. It puts the network in the service of the very people who don’t watch it and antagonistic to the very people who do.
It’s suggested that the decision makers - the dream makers of our popular culture who are older, are fighting to be relevant; fighting not to be old.
The rest of us see the future and it is older.
I say, bring back Harry’s Law and let us watch one of the best actresses on the planet do her wonderful thing.