Analysis Finds TV's 55+ Viewers Eroding For First Time, Younger Demos Have Plunged

It’s no secret that linear TV viewing has been declining as American consumers -- especially younger ones -- shift to digital alternatives, but a new analysis from the equities research team at UBS shows that even older TV viewers have begun eroding for the first time.

The analysis of Nielsen estimates for persons using television (PUTs) shows viewers ages 55 or older declined for the first time during the past two quarters.

While total viewers (two years or older) have been eroding for some time, the fact that TV’s most diehard and heaviest viewers also are abandoning the medium should come as a wakeup call for many in the TV and advertising industry.

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That’s especially true given that the 55-plus demographic currently represents more than half of all TV viewing.

“Older demos continue to worsen with the persons 35-49 demo seeing the greatest deceleration, now declining 11.9% vs. -10.2% last quarter and just -6.3% a year ago,” UBS analyst John Hodulik notes in the analysis, adding: “The persons 55-plus demo -- now  >50% of total TV viewership -- continues to fall ~2% vs. 2% growth last year.”

In a secondary analysis indexing all of the major age groups viewing to 2010 levels, UBS finds that the youngest viewers have eroded 50% to 60% over that period.

6 comments about "Analysis Finds TV's 55+ Viewers Eroding For First Time, Younger Demos Have Plunged".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, September 12, 2019 at 8:43 a.m.

    No surprise. My wife and I are in our 60s and have been viewing more and more Netflix/Amazon Prime/Hulu as time goes by. And we talk up the shows to our 55+ friends and family. Linear TV is still good programming but binge-viewing is more addictive. I just finished the first two season of Justified, a great show that I had overlooked. That's 26 hours of time spent not tempted by linear. I can pause it, skip recaps and title sequences, and it remembers where I was if I log off. Best of all, no commercial interruptions.

  2. Howard Shimmel from Janus Strategy and Insights, LLC, September 12, 2019 at 9:24 a.m.

    Will be very interesting to watch the extent to which these older demos start cord-cutting. The Cable/Satellite/Telco market has been held up to date by 55+ penetration.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 12, 2019 at 10:51 a.m.

    I agree as well. What amazes me is the slow rate of adjustment that the TV networks and local stations are making programming-wise to try to halt the gradual reduction of TV viewing time that is taking place not only by the young---who are not their "base" audience but among middle aged and older people. Let's face it, the latter, your typical "late adopters", are also going to be lured by the rapid increase in SVOD offerings, especially those put forth by the very same networks that are losing ground in "linear" usage. OK, so it's likely that the TV networks are betting on SVOD---paid subs----as the linchpin of their new and evolving business models. That makes sense. But why not take their still huge "linear" franchise and try to develop new program formats that might make these more attractive to more people? Must local news be the only fare that network affiliated stations count on, aside from prime access syndicated game and celebrity news shows plus network entries which they also carry? Must the networks' early AM and daytime content consist only of talking head fare and a few soaps or game shows? Must most ABC, CBS and NBC primetime shows always come from a select group of tried and true---but old hat---suppliers whose programs all seem like look alikes?

  4. Steven Edelman from Connect360, September 12, 2019 at 3:09 p.m.

    Their was a design distortion in the top graph. It should have used a base year of zero. The deigner and publisher should have known better. The bottom graph was done properly. 

    Sorry about being a design critic, but poorly designed graphic information drives me crazy.

  5. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, September 12, 2019 at 3:14 p.m.

    @Steve Edeleman: The top chart is not an index. The data represent year over year changes for each quarter, as noted in the head. The second chart is indexed to 2010.

  6. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 12, 2019 at 7:50 p.m.

    $$$urprised ?

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