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TV Land to Tap Tube’s First Generation

New York— Already catering to baby boomers, TV Land plans to super-serve the group in the years to come.

TV Land and Nick at Nite president Larry Jones — speaking here Nov. 14 at a conference announcing the results of a new research study examining the perceptions about the 78 million people living in this nation born between 1946 and 1964, and their attitudes about TV and advertising — said the retro-TV network plans to use “boomers as a filter for everything we do in terms of acquisitions, original series and specials.”

Jones’s remarks, which also included comments about placing boomers’ “programming needs front and center,” came in the context of the study’s overall findings: that the demographic group expressed dissatisfaction and annoyance that programmers and advertisers place an undue emphasis on younger demographics. Jones said that 70% of TV Land’s target audience is between 40 and 54.

“TV Land’s New Generation Gap Study,” conducted by San Francisco-based Age Wave, with input from more than 4,000 respondents nationwide, found that in their “middlescense,” 76% of 40-59-year-olds say their best years are ahead, versus 23% who believe the best has passed.

Moreover, the study pointed out that when it comes to new product issues, baby boomers are just as likely as young adults — 71%-71% — to be open to buying new products and services and can be equally affected by advertising for the same: 55%-55%.

In their peak earning years, boomers also have total buying power representing $2.3 trillion in annual household expenditures, versus $1.5 trillion for consumers 18 to 39. The study indicated that boomers have the highest spending levels for such categories as restaurants, spirits, vacations, airlines and financial services, as well as sectors perceived to be younger-skewing like cellphones, DVD players, computers (hardware and software) and movie tickets.

Given their financial clout and propensity to spend, the survey called into question the cost-per-thousand premiums advertisers have long paid to cable and broadcast networks to reach younger adult audiences.

As for the tube, the survey found that over one-third of boomers, projecting to more than 25 million men and women, are dissatisfied with their TV-programming options. Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that shows and ads are targeted to those under 40. Moreover, half of boomers pay minimal attention to ads targeting young adults and a third are less likely to purchase an advertised product.

As TV Land works to get the study’s message out to agencies and clients, the network, which recently launched Mr. T-helmed reality series I Pity the Fool, announced several new pilots for next year, including Family Foreman, a reality skein featuring former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman and his 10 children; The Big 4-0, which looks at how several Boomers celebrate the milestone birthday; Meet Your Match, a dating show for boomers; and The Story of …, which looks at the fads and trends of the TV generation.

New shows set to premiere on the network include TV Land Myths & Legends, an investigative series that looks at Hollywood’s most famous fables; High School Reunion, which reunites former classmates after a 20-year separation; Celebrity Love Cruise (working title), a reality series that mixes The Dating Game with The Love Boat; and Back to the Grind, in which celebrities partake in the jobs where their TV characters once labored.

Talk-show skein Sit Down Comedy With David Steinberg will return for a sophomore run, featuring such guests as Robin Williams, Jon Stewart and Ray Romano. Also returning for a second season is TV Land Confidential and a new installment of its 100 Most franchise.