The growing video age gap

It’s no surprise that online video skews to the young, but it’s always interesting to see some hard data to back it up.

For instance, the audience for the major broadcast networks is shockingly old (courtesy of NewTeeVee and Variety.com). The median age of viewers of CBS is 55; ABC is 51; NBC is 49. New networks skewed younger: Fox at 46 and The CW at 34. those numbers came from surveys into viewing habits from research firm Magna Global.

Interestingly, the median age of viewers who watch network TV shows via DVR playback checks in at a median age of 40 years old.Not surprisingly, cable networks sported a younger audience in general, with TBS at 35, TNT at 44, USA at 46 and FX at 37.

Clearly, younger viewers like programming targeted at their age-group — you won’t find many youthful shows on CBS, for instance. And when they are watching broadcast TV, they prefer to do it on their own terms via DVR time-shifting.

All of that data comes at a time when Web video, which meets those two characteristics — targeting and convenience — strongly is bigger than ever. According to July numbers from Comscore, 158 million U.S. viewers watched a record 21.4 billion Web videos last month.

YouTube owner Google is the market share leader, at 42%, or 121 million unique viewers. Hulu — backed by those same network owners whose broadcast audiences are skewing so much older — continues to grow quickly, reaching number 5 in audience with 38.1 million viewers.

At that level, Hulu now has a larger audience than Time Warner Cable.

Maybe the broadcast networks that own Hulu — even as they see their traditional audiences age precipitously — aren’t in such a bad position after all.

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