THE GRAY MARKET: Part 3 – Media Usage

  • by December 22, 2000
By Brad Adgate

Because they have more leisure time, older Americans, on average, watch more television than any other age group.

During the 1999-2000 broadcast season, Adults 65+ spent forty-one hours and thirty minutes per week watching television (compared to twenty-eight hours and fifty-four minutes for Adults 18-64).

Viewing levels peak between the hours of 7p.m.-11p.m., and only during the overnight hours of 1a.m. to 7a.m. do the younger viewers watch more television than older viewers.

One of the network programs types that have the heaviest concentration of Adults 65+ viewers (VPVH’s) is the evening news (especially during the weekends). Network daytime television (e.g., daytime dramas and Price is Right) report the greatest concentration of Women 65+ VPVH’s. Live sporting events (e.g., major league baseball) generally have a strong Men 65+ VPVH. Looking at prime time, the ten regularly scheduled programs with the highest Adults 65+ VPVH all air on CBS.

(What effect Viacom’s ownership of CBS will have in attracting a younger audience remains to be seen.)

In prime time, Adults 65+ are more likely to view programs from the three major networks than any other age group; reporting a three-net share of forty-five during the twelve months ending in August 2000. Adults 65+ are also the heaviest viewers of PBS during prime time.

Adults 65+ have the lowest shares in prime time toward premium pay cable (e.g., HBO, etc.), and the newer broadcast networks such as Fox, WB & UPN. The ad supported cable network share of thirty-four is similar to other adult demographic breaks and well below kids and teens.

In barter syndication, prime access game show such as Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Hollywood Squares and courtroom simulations (e.g., Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, etc.) are included in the programs that have a strong Adults 65+ VPVH.

According to Nielsen, in September 2000 there were over twenty-six million Adults 65+ that can receive cable programming from either a cable operator, satellite service or some other alternate means.

For second quarter 2000, the following ten ad supported cable networks had the highest Adults 65+ VPVH on a broadcast day basis: CNN (.531), Fox News Channel (.393), The Health Network (.384), Game Show Network (.374), American Movie Classics (.370), CNBC (.366), A&E (.351), Odyssey (.332), Headline News (.309) and TNN (.300).


The RADAR Winter 2000 survey reports that 85.1% (or 27.7 million) Adults 65+ listen to the radio each week, the lowest “reach” of any adult age group. Radio listening peaks among older Americans from 8-9 a.m., with an average usage level of 18.1%.

The largest difference in radio usage between Adults 18-64 and Adults 65+ occurs during the p.m. drive time hours of 3-7 p.m. According to RADAR, Adults 65+ spend slightly over 15 hours per week, on average, listening to the radio, most of which is done at home.

Arbitron’s annual Radio

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