Nielsen's Numbers: More Aging People

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By Lisa de Moraes, Washington Post

Friday, August 25, 2006; Page C05

Nielsen Media Research has raised its estimate of the number of TV viewers in the United States by 1.1 percent to 283.5 million in time for the start of the new TV season.

Nielsen said the estimates reflect the continued growth of the baby boomer generation, but we think they meant “the aging” because, so far as we can tell, no baby boomers are being born these days, unless that Sci Fi Channel show I watched the other day was nonfiction.

Anyway, Nielsen says one of the fastest-growing demographic categories is people age 55-64, which, in one of those incredible coincidences that make covering television just like studying astrophysics without the math, is the same demographic most snubbed on a daily basis by the television networks. The number of people in that age bracket shot up by nearly 4 percent.

The number of viewers in their teens and early twenties — the age group most fawned over by the TV networks — climbed 2 percent.

Nielsen also revised its numbers on the country’s Hispanic, Asian and African American TV households. Hispanics and Asians remain the fastest-growing national segments of the population, with the number of TV households increasing by nearly 4 percent over the past year for both groups.

The number of African American TV households also grew by 1.3 percent — faster than the national average of 1.1 percent.

Meanwhile, Nielsen has had to reconsider its position on New Orleans in the wake of last year’s hurricane devastation.

Nielsen says it now estimates there are 556,980 TV households in that market — down 11 percent compared with last year’s 672,150.

But, the number-crunching company said, because “traditional demographic sources” are not up to date in that market or do not yet reflect the post-hurricane population changes, the estimates it is using were produced with alternative sources, including FEMA. Hahahahahaha. Oh — not kidding. Sorry.

Anyway, Nielsen reports it has sunk New Orleans from the 43rd-ranked TV market to No. 54.

Replacing the Big Easy at No. 43: Las Vegas.

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