Warming down from a running track workout at California Institute of Technology -- one of the preeminent U.S. engineering/technology universities -- I peered into the window of an office with a professor (or student) watching TV.
Shockingly, I saw “Star Trek: The Next Generation” -- one of the most identifiable tech-related/sci-fi TV shows ever -- was on. I think nothing of it. Until the following week’s workout -- when it happens again. Someone sitting in an office at an engineering college is watching the same “Star Trek” series.
Because three data points are important in coming up with some good “trend” analysis, I wait for one more week. Same result.
The fourth week? Can’t tell this time -- the blinds are down. For all I know, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” could be on.
Some full disclosure: My 90-year-old father watches everything “Star Trek” -- TV shows, movies, whatever. Actually, he began viewing the original TV series in the late 1960s.
His profession? A retired accountant, with little in the way of an engineering background. Still, he was a keen tax-return math whiz.
Is he in your target audience? Certainly not your typical “Star Trek” target.
TV marketers have long made associations as to who watches what kind of show, getting much stuff right. But there is spillage -- and in this diverse and changing media world -- many other questions about current TV audiences and buying practices from media executives.
They include: 1) Why do advertisers continue to pay more for younger audiences? 2) Why are older adults and baby boomers seemingly marginalized in some campaigns? 3) Are Nielsen ratings really worthless to some because there is no link between the age or sex of an TV audience and retail sales?
You may know a number of 55-year-old high-powered women attorneys viewing “The Big Bang Theory,” but maybe they are not buying anything from show sponsors, such as AT&T Wireless, Subaru or Target.
I’m going back to track tomorrow. If my eyes are not bleary by the intensity of the workout from my running coach, I’ll take a peek at the office again.
Here’s hoping any post-media buying research will bear out a deeper, more complex picture of the current 2016 TV audience -- maybe an audience association based on a slightly different TV show title -- say “Dancing with the Stars,” “Food Network Star” or reruns of “Star Search.”