Young TV audiences are watching later and later, many ignoring prime time altogether. This is kind of funny for me because over the last few years – as the trend has become more dramatic – I have been heading in the opposite direction, NEVER watching TV after 10pm other than on weekends. I watched late night TV for twenty years when there wasn’t much on – I guess I’m just a freak.
- On many days, 20-year-old New York college student Andrew Myers doesn’t bother turning on his TV until 11 at night. He’ll catch up on Jon Stewart, David Letterman, and maybe a “Seinfeld” rerun.
Young television viewers haven’t disappeared, contrary to the worries of many network executives. Many of them are simply watching TV later.
Savvy cable executives have responded to the increased late-night viewership, and may even have accelerated the trend.
“I don’t think it’s totally rocket science to note that young people are up late at night,” said Kathryn Mitchell, executive vice president of programming at Comedy Central. “They weren’t catered to, and now they are.”
Prime time is defined as 8 to 11 p.m. for the broadcast networks. Myers said he reserves that time for schoolwork, or going out with friends. If there’s a show on then that he wants to see, he’ll save it on his digital video recorder.
“The majority of my TV watching is late at night, when I’m done with all of the other stuff that I’m doing,” Myers said.
Such cable channels as MTV, Comedy Central, FX, Bravo and VH1 effectively start their prime time at 10. That’s when high-profile programs “Nip/Tuck,” “The Osbournes,” “Real World,” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” “Crank Yankers” and “Joe Schmo” are first shown.
….Night owl viewership, from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m., increased 35 percent for people aged 18 to 34 between 1999 and 2003, according to Nielsen Media Research.
During the same period, prime-time viewership decreased 3 percent in that age group. It’s been more concentrated this year: viewing for young men is down 7 percent since last fall. People in this age group do a little more than one-quarter of their TV-watching during traditional prime time, down 10 percent in four years, Nielsen said. [CNN]