Are you 50+? Then NBC Doesn’t Want You!

In May, NBC decided not to renew the series “Harry’s Law”. Why do you suppose they did that? Was it because no one watched it? No, that wasn’t the reason. It was the second most-watched series on NBC, 8.8 million viewers, just under the 9 million viewers who watched the first most-watched “Smash”. Well, then, why would they have cancelled it? Isn’t the show’s popularity what appeals to networks? Well, yes and no.

Don’t networks care that a lot of people are watching their shows? That depends on the advertisers. Don’t advertisers care that a lot of people are watching the shows wherein they air their commercials? Yes. As long as the watchers are between the ages of 18 and 49. Otherwise, not so much.

Networks kiss the rings of advertisers, so advertisers determine what we watch on TV. And they (these esteemed “Advertisers”) don’t give a rat’s ass if every single person 50 years of age and older is watching a program or not. They don’t want us. They want the younger crowd. So that would seem to say, “Seniors, suck it up! Learn to love what the demographic that we care about is watching. You are just too damn old to matter to us any longer.”

One NBC executive had the nerve (oh how I’d like to use another term here), to say, “Its [Harry’s Law’s] audience skewed very old and it is hard to monetize that.”

Monetize this, dipshits.

  • 75% of America’s wealth is controlled by those 55 and older.
  • We spend nearly $400 billion more than any other generation, each year.
  • We outspend the average consumer (whoever that is) in categories such as entertainment and dining, gifts and furniture, and these are the types of commercials that generally air during prime time.

Bottom line. We have more money and we spend it.

But advertisers still listen to the Neilsen Company, who has been monitoring what we watch for the last 40+ years or so. It would appear they continue to use the same methodology they did back in the 70’s.

The Neilsen Company is telling advertisers that the only people who matter are under 50. The advertisers are listening to Neilsen, which is a huge mistake, and threatening to pull ads where the demographic is suspect. No advertisers = no show.

The strategy the Neilsen Co. uses is installing a box in a select number of homes. These are the “Neilsen Families” and they are paid for the inconvenience of having their TV viewing privacy violated. I have never been approached by Neilsen to be one of their select “families” nor do I know anyone who has, but I would have told them where they might place their monitoring device, should they have invited me to become a “Neilsen Family”.

“Hello, may I speak to the head of the household?” says Neilsen.

“Speaking,” say I.

“We, at Neilsen, would like to invite you to become a Neilsen Family, and in that way you can take part in our ongoing quest for Accuracy in Television Viewing and aid our clients in determining who is watching what shows, and if they should bother to advertise on said shows or not, which will then result in those advertisers pressuring the TV networks to axe certain programs. And we would be delighted to bestow a small gift upon you and your family for your cooperation in this matter.”

“No way,” say I. And then I would have told them the location where the monitoring device might be deposited.


That’s the way that conversation would have gone.

Who would agree to do that? The checks they send aren’t generous, the term used is “token”, and anyone who would do it for that paltry money is certainly not the demographic Neilsen is targeting.

The Neilsen Company wants to “identify, message and find your [the Almighty Advertiser’s] most valuable consumers to maximize marketing efficiency”. They also hope to “adjust your strategy, product and/or marketing to better appeal to key consumers”. (Hint: We are not the key consumers of which they so eloquently business-speak.) And finally, they hope to “…identify white-space innovation opportunities based on a proprietary understanding of latent and emerging demand.”

Wow. WTF does all that purposely obfiscating, nonsensical stuff mean? It means basically, we’re screwed. You will watch American Idol and Dancing With the Stars and NCIS and like it. Turn to the AMC channel if you don’t like it, you old farts.

What’ll it be, Mother? The Travel Channel or The Weather Channel?

One of the reasons they say old-timers aren’t worth pursuing as viewers is that everyone knows that brand-loyalty is established between the ages of 18 – 34. Well, I sorta beg to differ on that one. I’ve switched brands lots of times, and I use products that weren’t available back then, and I’ve changed my mind about a lot of stuff so don’t tell me that I have any brand loyalty at all because I don’t. How do we establish brand loyalty for cell phones, and flat screen TVs, and eReaders between the ages of 18 and 34 when they weren’t around then? And never mind that the brands you might have been loyal to, have long been driven out of business anyway!

And another thing. What about all the 18 – 49 year-olds who DVR everything so they can fast-forward through the commercials. Everyone does that, but I’d be willing to bet Baby Boomers do it less than 18 – 49 year-olds.

Here’s the perfect solution. Advertise the products you think we are interested in (even though we’re clearly not), but in your infinite wisdom of what you think makes good business sense, it would fit in quite nicely. And then you can advertise these products on Harry’s Law.

A few products to consider:

  • The Pride Mobility Go-Go Ultra X 4-wheel Scooter
  • The Rollator/Transport Chair Walker Combo
  • The Medlift Economy Full Size Adjustable Bed
  • Depend® Real Fit Briefs – Discrete Protection (Choose the one which suits your lifestyle)
  • Poligrip Denture Adhesive (Helps keep food out)
  • Funeral Pre-planning (Give your family Peace of Mind)
  • The myriad of drugs marketed on the National News, including (but not limited to) ED helpers, osteoporosis, emphysema and “going and going and going” medications and all the other junk drugs that fix one problem and cause four more.

But give us back Harry’s Law.

I Want My Harry’s Law!

What do you think about this?

12 thoughts on “Are you 50+? Then NBC Doesn’t Want You!

  1. Completely in agreement, they will eventually catch on when they are out of business….
    Over 60 and proud of it!

    Johanna van Zanten

    • Yes, you would think they’d catch on that what used to work might not work any longer. That things change, and people change. But they don’t seem to. Thanks for commenting!

    • Yes, I agree, their loss. There have been numerous studies done, and articles written, yet the focus continues to be on this younger demographic. I don’t understand it. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I agree with all you said. I loved Harry’s Law and it seems that every time I start liking a show, it gets cancelled. I’d put the box that monitors right where you would.

    • Hi, Cathy. Yeah. It was great, the same people who produced Boston Legal did it. (Ah, James Spader). That also skewed older but had a longer run than Harry’s Law did. It is maddening (and that’s a moderate term for me) that they do this, especially with a show that was so well-liked.

  3. I couldn’t understand why the show got cancelled. It always seemed to do well in the ratings. I watched it, and I’m not 50 yet. Then again, I’m over 40, so I guess my opinion doesn’t count. 🙂 Chaps my fanny to think this was the reason for its departure.

    • Carrie, unfortunately that is exactly why it was cancelled. And yet you, who are one of the esteemed elite demographic they want, watched it. Go figure. I guess unless you have a Neilsen box, only then do you count. Irritating isn’t it?

      • I don’t think I’m quite the demographic they want given I’m well into my 40’s ascent, but to me, good ratings are good ratings. Can’t believe all that other stuff factors in. If they replace Harry’s Law with another reality show, I will scream. 🙂

  4. Well, that just sucks!! That’s one of my favorite shows! One more reality show is just what this country needs (along with rampant warts!). Guess I never told you I used to have one of those Neilsen boxes when I lived in Oakland. If I wanted to take a little nap, I’d turn the TV to a PBS or other such channel, just to avoid accidently ‘recording’ that I was watching some lame sitcom, that was still on despite it’s inferiority, while the good stuff had been yanked! Don’t remember getting paid, but if I did, it was obviously so negligible as to have escaped my memory completely!
    And you’re right about brand loyalty – I’ve changed various product brands dozens of times, especially as they come out with the all-natural, no-chemical stuff.
    This was a great blog! Laughed ‘tl my tummy hurt!!

    • You make a couple of really good points here. The “Neilsen Families” might be giving them some skewed results for just the reason you cite. And with the new knowledge we have about additives, chemicals (unpronouncable ingredients on labels), hormones and anti-biotics (and much, much more) we switch to other brands in order to live healtier lifestyles. But we’ll probably get another reality show in place of Harry’s Law, maybe be another Lost where we can watch people eat potato bugs.

  5. Pingback: Baby Boomer Literature – A New Genre? | Lynn Schneider Books

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