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 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:
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.
“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!