CBS Amused As NBC Goes For The Gray

CBS, which has the top-rated network so far this season and announced a 53% increase in earnings on Thursday has one more reason to gloat.

Earlier this week, NBC Universal put on a presentation about how important consumers in the 55-to-64-year age bracket are. NBC called that demographic the Alpha Boomers. For years, even when it had large numbers of viewers, CBS was criticized because many of those viewers were older. CBS was called The Geritol Network while NBC got rich off Friends.

CBS CEO Les Moonves was asked by an analyst about NBCU’s new fascination with the gray-hair set during the company’s earnings call last week.

“We sort of find it a little bit ironic that NBC is now talking about older demos. It’s something we’ve obviously been talking about for a while,” Moonves said. “I’ve been quoted about a thousand times saying for my money, a 50-year-old is more valuable than a 19-year-old in terms of purchasing power. I was sort of booed down by the other networks when they were doing a bit better, that 18 to 49 is the only thing that mattered. Now that we’re winning the 18 to 49, suddenly, there’s a shift.”

Moonves added: “Now, by the way, we still agree with the fact that a 50-year-old is more valuable than a 19-year-old, and we’ve always welcomed them into the tent. And to us, a viewer is a viewer is a viewer. We like winning them all. We like 18-year-olds and we like 80-year-olds, and the good thing is they’re watching CBS.”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.