Do only sick older people watch the evening news? 6

CBS SCott PelleyMy  daily routine after I get home from the gym or work, is to have a late dinner and then check out the evening news that I DVR’d . I don’t watch it live because I’m not home around 6:30p, so I just record it and watch it later, plus I can fast forward through all the commercials..

And it’s while I was fast forwarding through those commercials that something seemed odd. I started noticing more and more, something strange about them..  Just about every ad was for a medicine, I mean literally every commercial break was for a medicine. At first  I thought that’s just one night and just on channel, maybe it was medicine week. But no, there it was again night after night, drug commercials galore and a couple of other senior citizen demographic related commercials. What give’s ?

Typical advert schedule, of the evening news Sept. 19th 2013

PharamAdTo make my point let’s take a night in the life  the CBS Evening News, with Scott Pelley.

Product /Service   Advertiser Industry Running time Minutes in (EST)
Alka-Seltzer Plus  Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceutical 0:15s 12:00
Dr. Scholls  Merck & Co Pharmaceutical 0:15s 12:15
Lifesyle Lift Life Style Lift Cosmetic Surgery 1:00 13:00
Prolia AmGen Pharmaceutical 1:00 14:00
Bayer Aspirin  Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceutical 0:30s 16:30 VioxxSettlement Fund Legal Svcs 0:30s 17:00
E*Trade E Trade LLC  Financial Services 0:15s 17:15
Energy Tomorrow Petroleum Institute Energy 0:15s 17:30
Nexium Astra Zeneca Pharmaceutical 0:30s  18:00
Energy Siemens Energy 0:15a 18:15
NovoLogo FlexPen Novo Nordisk  Pharmaceutical 1:00s  20:30
Tums GlaxoSmith Kline Pharmaceutical 0:15s  22:00
Cialis GlaxoSmith Kline Pharmaceutical 1:00s  23:00
CBS This Morning CBS  Media 0:15s 23:15

Actually the best part of the news program this evening was the last segment a retrospective on blues legend  guitarist B.B. King..

You can reverse-engineer  viewer habits.

It’s not rocket science to figure out from the content of those commercials, that the 6:30-7:00p audience is mostly seniors .  So it seems mostly Baby Boomers (55+) and the Greatest Generation (65+) are watching the evening news.  It also seems that this group is a sickly lot, I mean just because your more senior in age doesn’t always mean your ill and in need of medicine. There are a dozen other products or services that might appeal to this demographic. Such things Vacation destinations, cruises, automobiles, real estate , etc. are all things that retirees might have an interest in, but you seldom see an ad for any of those items on the evening news.

Is the evening news market that senior heavy? Does no one under 50 watch the evening news? and what does that say about the Evening News  and current 20,30,40 year old viewing habit? What does it say about senior citizens are  glued to the evening news…

What else can I glean from the Evening news ads..

Besides figuring out the target demographic of the evening news, once can also surmise a few other items.

  • The ads are not tech savvy at all, which means this group mostly gets its media via traditional means, TV and likely newspapers.
  • Drug ads seem to be heavily based on big pharma marketing flavor, the “ask your doctor” type of drug, not the over the counter type of drug.
  • Keeping with the senior demographic trend, cosmetic surgery is starting to creep in, I suspect we’ll see much more of those in the near future
  • The internet doesn’t exist for these advertisers, very little cross-media mention (aka visit our site, or download our app) to find out more about our service.
  • What’s with the Energy sector, those commercials are so non consumer facing, not sure what’s the point.
  • Also the timing of the commercial segments is interesting, the first one doesn’t appear until about 12 minutes into the newscast, but then afterwards there’s literally a commercial every other minute until the last segment.. very strange.. I surmise this came about from focus groups the figured if you have a long enough initial block of news, the rapid fire commercials will  be more interesting to viewers?

Ads probably spell an end to traditional evening news..

It also doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that a retiree viewership on fixed incomes, that need medicines are not likely to be big spenders, and that does not bode well for the future of the Evening news. Its possible that in 5-10 years most of the major network will dump or shorten the evening news, and replace it with something more profitable (Sports, reality Tv , game shows). Remember advertiser want to cater to an audience that has money, and the peak buying years for most consumers is between 20-50 , Its kind of funny to think that the news format pioneered by the likes of Walter Kronkite may be reaching the end of the rode..

I probably analyzed this particular evening newscast too much, but I’m curious and I like to be able to use these ideas as mirror back onto society to get an idea who’s paying attention to what..


6 thoughts on “Do only sick older people watch the evening news?

  1. Reply Kalani Aug 13,2015 9:21 pm

    I am absolutely sick of all the pharmaceutical commercials. They are out of control! If someone has a medical issue, don’t you think that the person is already having a conversation with their provider? Leave the suggesting to the provider, as they are more intimately familiar with the patient. In fact, I think that pharmaceutical companies should invest more in research and testing using the good old scientific method, rather than spending so much on prime time ad spots. The cost of these ads are likely being passed to the consumer, and the cost of drugs are out of control as it is.

    • Reply Tony B. Aug 30,2015 10:02 pm

      Couldn’t agree more, keep in mind the point I was trying to make was related to the demographic of evening news, since its mostly AARP type folks who are tuning in.. so the marketing “wizards” at big Pharma contract with media folks about how to best market Viagra ..

  2. Reply Bug Apr 25,2016 5:59 pm

    We’re all screwed and are going to die. . . Infinite growth on a finite planet is the logic of the cancer cell. The system we’re diminished by considers us as a commodity. . .

  3. Reply Kira Mar 9,2017 12:31 pm

    I dread weekday evening news. Every 3 minutes is big pharmaceutical ads. Medicare supplement open enrollment. AARP. cosmetic surgery. A fight to watch the news.

  4. Reply Chester Field May 21,2019 5:34 am

    You mean “The Evening/Morning News” is still on? Wow, since I never watch television at all, I wasn’t aware. I also heard recently that those curious artifacts of the 19th century called “newspapers” and “magazines” can still be found. Can you confirm this yeti-type sighting?

    • Reply Tony B. May 29,2019 1:27 pm

      Chester, true I say give it a few more years, once the boomers are no longer a substantial demographics, it will go away entirely, in fact the notion of scheduled pre-programmed recording (outside of LIVE sporting events) are probably going to be rare.

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