08 Oct 2007, Posted by Eric Karstens in Media Policy, 0 Comments

Content for ageing audiences

There is a lot of discussion going on about media aging with their audiences and the media outlets therefore frantically trying to make programmes and other contents for ever young people in order to rejuvenate their audiences.

There are a few things to be said about that.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with catering to target groups above the age of 50. Our societies are aging, so why not serve the majority (without neglecting the younger demographics, of course)? If half the society is older than 50, these same people also contribute more than half the consumer spendings and, – not least – half the political vote.

But – and this is maybe not the platitude it seems to be at first glance – not all older people are the same. Although it may well be true that today’s septuagenarians tend to like sentimental black and white movies, easy-listening folk songs, and reports on royal families and aging entertainment stars, that does not mean that today’s young and middle aged people will fancy the same stuff when they grow older. No, we will be reading, watching and listening to basically the same kind of content we have been at the age of 35 or 45, only with hopefully some development in taste and a lessening tolerance for foolishness.

This means that content producers need to change and must actually encourage innovation in order to keep pace with the succeeding older generations. If they want to be as attractive to the upcoming seniors as they are to the current ones, they will have to continue developing formats for the medium generation, i.e. the people who are today between the ages of 30 and 50, because these will be forming the “old” audience of tomorrow.

Though we might feel somewhat uncomfortable to admit it: As a general rule, young is good – if maybe not always in reality, but for sure in our minds. Irrespective of our age, we admire the beauty of young people, we claim that we would like to be young again, and we just plainly do not want to be treated like old people even if we need glasses or dentures, are no longer as healthy and mobile as we used to be, or covet a seat on public transportation. This holds true for media preferences as well – rather than reading a publication called “Senior’s Digest,” most seniors would much rather go for something that younger people would find attractive as well.