The noisy disruption of media business models by the internet in the past decade has obscured a profound demographic transformation. Whether they are buying music, listening to the radio, reading newspapers or watching television, media consumers are ageing even more quickly than the overall population. Rather than trying to reverse this trend by attracting younger people, many companies are attempting to profit from the greying of media.
The practice of measuring television audiences by the number of 18- to 49-year-olds they contain is simply an historical anachronism, argues Mr Wurtzel of NBC. David Poltrack, his counterpart at CBS, agrees. It used to be assumed, he says, that older people had already worked out which brands they liked and could not be persuaded to try new things. But the middle-aged have taken to toys such as e-readers and iPads. Mr Poltrack has devised an alternative way of classifying viewers that emphasises tastes and attitudes to media (for example as “sports enthusiasts” or “surfers and streamers”) rather than age.This latter point underscores the fact that the importance of age has been transformed both by longer, healthier lives, and by the bulge of boomers. There are a lot of boomers, they are still relatively young and healthy, and they have money to spend. If you want to make money, they still represent a good market, even if they are all older than 49.