A lot of old fogeys are watching the news!

MONDAY, JULY 29, 2013

Two cable tribes, Old and Older: Very little seems to have changed. People who watch cable news still tend to be old fogies.

Bill Carter did the report last week. The basic take-away reads like this:

MSNBC versus Fox represents Old versus Older:
CARTER (7/23/13): Fox News continues to be near the top in cable television in terms of the number of viewers it attracts, but it is near the top in another category, too: the median age of its audience is among the oldest in television.

For most of the television business—the segment that relies on advertising—that would be serious cause for concern because ad sales are almost always based on a target age of 25 to 54, and Fox News, for the last two years, has had a median age of 65-plus in its ratings both for the full day and for prime time.


News audiences always trend old, and the viewers of Fox’s competitors are hardly in the full flower of youth. MSNBC’s median age for its prime-time shows this year is 60.6; CNN’s is 59.8.

In terms of the rest of television, Fox News also is quite a bit older than networks considered to have a base of older viewers. CBS has frequently been needled for having older viewers, but at 56.8, its median viewer is far younger than Fox News’s.
For the record, Carter can’t give an exact median age for Fox viewers. In best New York Times fashion, he gives a non-explanation explanation for that fact:

“Just how old is its audience? It is impossible to be precise because Nielsen stops giving an exact figure for median age once it passes 65.”

Why does Nielsen stop doing that? Carter doesn’t say.

(We’ll take a guess—the oldest box you can check on its survey says “65 or older.” But we have no real idea, in part because we read Carter’s report.)

A lot of old fogeys are watching the news. Same as it ever was!


  1. I always thought those couples engaged in precoital play in the purple friend pill ads on
    cable news were WAAAY too young for their audience to identify with.

  2. Neilsen doesn't need to be any more specific about age-group other than a checkbox asking if you've ever shouted "jackass!" at the screen during a news show.

    1. staytunedforwheretheactionisnextonabcJuly 29, 2013 at 11:29 PM

      hah! then the somerbys readership must all be on life support.

  3. I always suspected that those who watch those awful cable programs were retirees, hospital patients, nursing home patients, TV's left on for animals shut in all day while owner is at work, and so on, who mostly can't get up or find the remote to change the station.

    1. Compared to what? Most of what's on TV is pure escapism. At least the cable programs are more or less dealing with real public issues.

    2. staytunedforwheretheactionisnextonabcJuly 30, 2013 at 1:31 AM

      but how honestly davidincal? people dont like being conned. it insulting to the viewers intelligence and that is very hard to take. new kid msnbc had a fresh chance if they could have found another way but im afraid they have blown it too.

    3. staytunedforwheretheactionisnextonabcJuly 30, 2013 at 1:40 AM

      for all the hell people have given gen. electrics ownership over the years i get the impression that comcast is going to strangle any chance for msnbc being the tribune of the common man, and not just the argula eating, starbucks sipping, effete and out of touch phony 'leftists'.

  4. staytunedforwheretheactionisnextonabcJuly 29, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    i have thoughts on how msnbc might improve but im upset with them and i dont know if its reconcilable. bearing in mind though that they helped 'us' dodge ryan, ill leave it there.