Viewers Too Old? NBC Cancels Harry’s Law

In a shocking move, NBC opted not to renew the television series, “Harry’s Law” for this fall. The problem? The show appeals to the over-55 demo, and not the ever-targeted 18-to-34 demographic. Harry’s Law, starring well-known actress Kathy Bates, is the network’s second most-watched drama, next only to “Smashed.” Naturally, the move appalled the show’s more than 8.8 million viewers.

Harry's Law Cancelled

The verdict is in. NBC has cancelled Harry's Law because viewers are "really old."

One thing has become clear from the recent decision: It’s not a show’s popularity that matters. It’s the appeal to advertisers. And advertisers don’t care if every 55+ American tunes into the same show every Tuesday night — they want the younger crowd. So in other words, sorry “Harry’s Law” fans, but you’re just too darn old.

An NBC executive went so far as to tell, “Its audience skewed very old and it is hard to monetize that.”

NBC’s getting it wrong…big time

Harry’s Law isn’t the only show that has been cancelled due to ageism. This year alone, long standing daytime soaps, One Life to Live and All My Children ended their tenure due to what many speculate is their inability to capture that so-called golden demographic of 18-49. But, they did something many series are unable to do today; they’ve grown with many of those 18 year olds for 40 plus years, putting their prime audience in their late 50s.

But, it appears as if NBC and their advertisers are getting it wrong. In fact, this very demographic should be precisely the one they need to target. According to Mature Marketplace, the 55 plus age group controls ¾ of America’s wealth. Baby boomers are spending nearly $400 billion more than any other generation each year. They outspend the average consumer in almost every category, including some of the most advertised categories like entertainment and dining, gifts and furniture — exactly the types of commercials that generally air during prime-time television.

Would Seinfeld have been cancelled?

What’s ironic about this situation is it’s this demographic that made shows like The Cosby Show, Seinfeld, and MASH ratings hits. Those viewers may have been more desirable during the 1970s, 80s and 90s because of their age, but it’s NOW that those audiences actually have money to spend. Research shows that the average boomer has disposable income netting around $24,000 annually and similar spending habits of the optimal 25-49 demographics.

The “very old” not only have money, but they are a very powerful group for advertisers when you look at the statistics.

  • Log the most hours watching TV per day (6.5 hours).
  • Spend 85 minutes per day online, 15 more minutes than those in the 12-24 age group.
  • 75% are online and watching TV simultaneously, which can double ad recall.
  • Are just as likely to switch brands as those aged 25-54.

Fighting for Harry

Harry’s Law, more specifically its fans, aren’t letting the show go without a fight. They have taken to social media in order to bring attention to their plight. With more than 60,000 Likes, the Save Harry’s Law Facebook page is becoming a mecca for viewers who are hoping to save the series. Many of the posts reflect the disdain felt towards NBC and are hopeful their pleas will be heard by executives, if not at NBC, perhaps at another network who will realize the potential of not only the show, but the audience watching it.

Photo via stock.xchng by creationc

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93 Responses to “Viewers Too Old? NBC Cancels Harry’s Law”

  1. Mary says:

    One of my favorite shows.

  2. Mary says:

    One of my favorite shows

  3. Harry's Law FBoomer Fan says:

    What ever happened to the power boomers had in the marketplace. All my life marketing has been directed TOWARDS boomers, and now we are seeing this ageist behavior by NBC working in opposition to everything I have said here. Wake up NBC…do you know WHO you are talking to? That’s right, the biggest generation ever!!! Cross us at your peril!! :(

  4. KAYE says:

    Maybe USA will show Harry”s Law. I find that I watch more on USA than all the other networks combined. I made it attempt to catch Harry’s Law every Sunday and I can remember when it was on Wednesday and then it got moved to another night and then it settled on Sunday.

    Kathy Bates was excellent and I enjoyed the good writing of the scripts. To Bad NBC. You had a great show and then you go and spoil it by not renewing. Instead to put all those reality shows on and so much are those shows are ridiculous and phony. I don’t watch Reality tv shows. So I guess I won’t be watching NBC.

    Let’s all as USA to carry Harry’s Law.

  5. julie larson says:

    Boomers unite!

  6. Betty says:

    Do you people at NBC think everything has to be for the younger generation,The older generation doesn’t matter.
    Better go back to the drawing board,just because we don’t care for all the crappy reality show’s and we do appreciate a real good show,and sure as shit you will cancel it.You people make me sick,better review again and bring back our ,Harry’s Law………..We matter just as much as everyone else….An avid veiwer,and lover of harry’s Law!!!!!!!

  7. Andy says:

    Harry’s Law is the only program on network television that I watch. In fact, it’s the only one I’ve wached for many years, preferring Discovery or History channel. What a huge mistake NBC is making. I may fit squarely into the demographic (47) but being disabled, I spend plenty of time in front of the TV, I have money and I don’t mind spending it. Please keep Harry’s Law on TV. I love it.

  8. Pam Racicot says:

    Whowere / are the sponsors . I will boycott every one of them

  9. Darlene Cardinal says:

    When Harry’s Law first view, I was very impressed it. It showcased a women who had aged and wasn’t wanted anymore. She proved to the world that she could survive in the world of the younger generation. She said what the hell, I did it before and she overcame the pettiness of age. Harry’s law is a role model for women who have faced disparity,ageism and a women we can watch with humor, I’ve been there and I will survive. Cancelling this show is a terrible idea or planning on whomever is not considering Women of my age. I like this show and what everyone is saying we matter just as much as everyone else. An true avid viewer and I program my PVR to make sure I don’t miss any of the shows.

  10. Linda says:

    It is quite the thing to realize that someone out there who has an executive job at a major network has missed the little detail that the baby boomers are the biggest demographic in the world and have been for 65 years, and we have money and time, and would like a little respect for our desires in entertainment. Wake up NBC!

  11. Susan says:

    No wonder NBC is consistently in last place among the big 3. Harry’s Law is the best of their drama shows, but they cancel it because it skews older than other shows?? Guess what – older viewers control A LOT of the money in this country! And there is not a single person in the country that is getting YOUNGER.
    BTW, wasn’t NBC the same network that cancelled JAG after one season? I note that there are 10 seasons worth of JAG DVD’s available because CBS had the sense to pick it up and run it for 9 more seasons, obviously contributing a great deal to that network and losing a lot of revenue for you. Here’s hoping someone else will have the sense to do the same for Harry’s Law.

  12. Linda says:

    It’s a shame that the network misses the boat time and time again. This was a terrific show with so much to offer viewers that aren’t into trophies or reality TV. I have signed the petition and encourage others to do so. It just may be time to block NBC with my remote.

  13. ReJeanna says:


  14. Liz Eipp says:

    In the past couple of weeks I have been watching George (Good Morning America)instead of Matt (Today Show). They all say the same thing, I also have turned from my local news on NBC to ABC. Harry’s Law is probably the best show going and to lose it is going to be horrible. So if everyone boycotts NBC then their other hit “Smash” will not get the ratings and be cancelled too. What is wrong with these people. Seems that someone is always pulling the plug on something that makes people happy! What a messed up world we live in!!!!! Hope those folks 18 – 49 can keep it so messed up when it is their turn to be over 50! Heck most of them don’t even have jobs!!!

  15. Judy says:

    Wow, what a dumb move NBC, boomers are a huge part of our society and probably the only ones with the money the advertisers want and also the only ones with interest in decency and values to watch a show like “Harry’s Law”. Reality shows are for the young people, they are either dumb, fluff, or gruesome. They don’t make your mind work like Harry did. NBC, you are going to lose customers

  16. Ilove love Harry’s law and Kathy Bates. what the young lawyers?
    Don’t they appeal to the 18-34??????????????

  17. sharon says:

    I was in shock when I heard Harrys Law had been cancelled This is the best show on the air I am sure that writers for TV shows are a thing of the past because it is all reality show. When they finally find a group of people who can write and know how to cast This is typical I am going to boycot all of the sponsors of Harrys Law because you can be sure they are behind this and I hope all you over 50 will do the same .Hitting in the wallet is the only thing they understand.

  18. Curt says:

    Has NBC learned nothing from their Prime Time Leno disaster. Now they are banking on the smarmy Brian Williams to succeed with Rock Center. I can see the “kids” just flocking to that show; NOT! There’s the hour where Harry’s Law would fit.

  19. Sylvia says:

    What is wrong with NBC? We may be over 55 but we still watch TV and moreso that a lot of younger people that the sponsors aim at. They are out, gadding about, while we older folks like to sit and watch an entertaining program such a “Harry’s Law”. Kathy Bates is the ultimate actress…her facial expressions alone make me laugh! And while we are at it, what happened to “Missing” which has also been cancelled. I don’t watch NBC all that much and will be watching it that much more, so sponsors…..forget me spending my money on your products if you are just going to cater to the “young” crowd.

  20. Brenda says:

    Is boycotting their sponsors the right move? The sponsors that are currently advertising during Harry’s Law have already agreed that the 50+ market is important to them. It’s everyone else, the big dollar sponsors, who don’t want to spend their money during that time slot. So, I’m just curious if boycotting the sponsors on during the show really makes sense? Thoughts?

  21. Robin says:

    Figures, NBC would go and cancel a show that actually makes a person think instead of the mindless drivel they try to push down our throats. Reality shows and situation comedies. The writers and producers of those should be shot. No creativity there, just stereotypical garbage and too many talentless wannabes. You have a terrific show with a stellar cast and outstanding writing that’s it on target with what’s going on in the world today and you say it’s TOO OLD! Seems to me the advertisers need to wake up. Go ahead and cater to the 18-34 year olds. They haven’t any money, many of them don’t work and still leech off of their parents. Those of us over 50, who don’t have a mortgage to pay and who have gotten our kids out of the house, have significant money to spend….but I guess we won’t be spending it on NBC advertisers.

  22. Den says:

    -Log the most hours watching TV per day (6.5 hours).
    -Spend 85 minutes per day online, 15 more minutes than those in the 12-24 age group.
    -75% are online and watching TV simultaneously, which can double ad recall.
    -Are just as likely to switch brands as those aged 25-54.

    This describes me except the amount of TV time. I shop online several times a week. As a professional woman, I just don’t get that we aren’t golden to advertisers.

  23. Nancy says:

    Here’s a case of “killing the Golden Goose.” Harry’s law boldly went where other shows feared to tread, by addressing current issues and issues that often were swept under the rug in todays society. Sure, The show had an appeal to an mature audience to begin, but it was slowing pulling in younger viewers… just needs more time to gel. What fool at NBC is making these snap decisions that are not well thought out ? Wake up the advertisers and have them smell the coffee…..they are shooting themselves in the pocket book with their dumb decisions.

  24. Erik Cofield says:

    What are those dumb NBC producers thinking? It’s one of their better shows and they are going to drop it. What, you think 50 year olds don’t have money. If they cancel it, I will switch on all the shows I am ambivalent about. Good Morning America is fine. I can switch. What is your favorite meaning of N.B.C. No Business Cent$, No Broadcasting Center…name yours.

  25. Linda Grigsby says:

    Ditto to all the comments above. We need quality shows that deal with current day issues and value people of all ages. I finally do have money and can spend it how I want to after having raised my children and paid off my house. We over 50 years of age do count. Hear us Roar!

  26. Argelia E. Davey says:

    AARP has a FB page. Copy the link to this article and paste it to their wall. Do the same with the NBC FB page. And in the meantime, find out who the advertisers are – the real culprit for the cancellation.

  27. rowdy randi says:

    I love Kathy Bates! This was the only NBC show I watched. I’m 54 with a houshold income of $150K, with plenty to spend! Nice to know that I don’t count anymore

  28. Donna says:

    What a shame that NBC has cancelled a show with great talent, great writing, and a social conscience. I have hopes that another network will see fit to pick up the show. How about it TNT or USA? The most appalling thing is that it is cancelled because those of us that watch are “to old”! Shame on you NBC!

  29. mary amos says:

    This is happening on all networks.My children are in the age group they want to target.They work all day come home run to sports for there kids and themselves.They get home let there children watch what they want which is usually the cartoon channel or a show for children.They say they are lucky to watch an hour a day of what they want.They like watching a movie rather then watching a scripted show.As they say why get into something if they can’t watch it every week.We the the ones who watch all these shows are being ignored and also spend more on ads on tv.Networks need to change there irresponsible ratings or may as well put Jersey shore or Teen pregancies on every network and hope they have time to watch an hour each night.copied reality is all over the place and its worse when its copied.Everyone wants good scripted shows so they have a reason to come back each day.Neilsen is so flawed.Less then 25,000 people are deciding what we watch and why?There is no way possible for them to determine what millions watch.May as well cancel everything but movie channels.At least there not gonna cancel movies.

  30. Rich Mentzel says:

    NBC stinks as a network and its this king of stupid thinking that makes them the worst of the current batch of networks. They can stuff their other awful shows right up their butt cheeks, I am done for good. Harry’s Law was the best show on TV and I sincerely hope someone who will understand how important that is picks up the show!

  31. Charlotte Michaud says:

    What a shame that NBC has cancelled a show with great talent, great writing, and a social conscience. I have hopes that another network will see fit to pick up the show. How about it TNT or USA? The most appalling thing is that it is cancelled because those of us that watch are “to old”! Shame on you NBC! Just keep showing your no brainer reality shows.
    I truly hope some other chanel will pick up “Harry’s Law”.

  32. Jennifer J. Martin (Gran Jen) says:

    Boo to NBC and the sponsors! You cancelled a wonderful show, and so will not get any of my money. You have no other shows worth watching, so that’s it for NBC,

  33. Bev Suhre - G'ma says:

    I will not be watching NBC again…this is so not fair to any of the fans that loved this show and there are many…one of the best shows on TV. I guess we need more room for Reality crap huh? So tired of the stupid shows and when they finally get an enjoyable one to broadcast they cancel it because the viewers are too old…guess who spends the most time watching TV you morons…also who buys your geriatric products that sponsor your programming? Well if I am too old I guess I will go back to reading or watching DVD’s of the programs I like that you all have cancelled…again – MORONS!!

  34. Baby Boomer and Proud says:

    Another reason to ditch NBC for another network. Changes on the Today show axing Ann Curry coupled with this means now I will not be watching day or night.

  35. not too old to care! says:

    oldsters buy things, too. we loved Harry’s law”, what a disappointment. just another reason to turn off the TV instead of watch garbage,

  36. Judy A. says:

    I was very upset to read HARRY’S LAW is going off the air. What are you executives in L.A. thinking of when you cncel good tv shows? I am so tired of reading about the networks trying to get high ratings for age groups 18-49. The days of people switching their dating nights or schedules around for tv shows are long gone. My husband and I are both over 50 so I guess what we like to watch on tv doesn’t count. What was great about the show was the controversiol cases Harry would take because there was a cause to stand up for or a principal. With the way the world is going today David Kelly has a lot of scripts to write, plus the man is very talented. Pretty soon the only shows left to watch will be reality shows. How sad Hollywood waste their time making these shows. My husband and I will sell our tv this summer and cancel our cable because we just can’t take this anymore. As for new shows coming on we won’t try to watch them because you will pull them too after 3-4 episodes. Networks don’t give viewers a chance to get into the show. A lot of people work at night, or at a function or sick or whatever and can’t be in front of a tv when the networks want them to be. Look at the tv show MASH. It didn’t start out real great, up for cancellation first season but look where it landed 11 years later. Shows must given a chance. Please put HARRY’S LAW back on tv. Look at your demos for over 50-80 and see how that goes. Good luck with your 18-49 year old and all the reality shows. Over 50 we will just spend our time doing other things then watching tv shows we are not young enough to fit into you demo chart range. It is sad that for all the years we have watch certain tv shows and connected to the characters and you watched the ratings go up, this is the thanks the viewers get. Nice to know that after all those years I viewed my favorite shows every week, this is the thanks me and the viewers got. Well thanks for nothing. JUDY .

  37. Boomer Yoga Girl says:

    NBC and it’s ilk would be advised to cater to boomers, seeing as how once the 20 and 30 something’s move out of their parents’ houses, they won’t be able to afford cable. Just like younger people are dropping their telephone landlines, they are also dropping cable TV in favor of online viewing. Wise up networks, or you’ll have no audience at all. You can keep your so-called (SCRIPTED)dumb-a** “reality shows.” We know you like them because they are comparatively cheap to produce, and by catering to a non-intellectual audience you are definitely doing your part to continue the DUMBING DOWN of the United States’ populace. Get the 30 something’s out of the C-suite chairs and get decision-makers who know how to use their brains and have some respect. Try setting the bar a little higher, not with your advertisers, but with your audience.

  38. Sherriea says:


  39. Sherriea says:


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