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.
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 Deadline.com, “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.
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