Many have said we’re living through television’s “second Golden Age.” A time when quality dramatic programming is at an all-time high. The “first Golden Age” is generally considered the late-40s to the early-60s. The era when receivers of television broadcasts — the medium itself first successfully executed in the late-20s — started to become within the realm of affordable, and broadcast networks started to bring original programming to the airwaves a number of hours each week.
Humanity was connected as never before, and some of the medium’s earliest purveyors hoped to bring art, education, and journalism of the highest order into people’s homes with the immediacy radio had long provided, but with the now nearly miraculous element of visuals added. While Hollywood was threatened, believing the medium could topple motion pictures. Talent of a high caliber was initially attracted to the nascent medium of enormous untapped potential.
But would Millennials, particularly those of the 18 to 24 set, even know who Rod Serling, Edward R. Murrow, or even Lucille Ball were?
As for the “Second Golden Age”…
There is no question that some extraordinarily sophisticated, well-written, beautifully acted and executed TV has been made since the start of the millennium. It’s not just been on cable, either. These days, it originates from all sources.
And it certainly has not been exclusively via streaming, although the medium has had its home runs (‘House of Cards,’ ‘TransParent,’ ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’). Services like Roku and Apple TV have altered the way ratings are gauged and have made the long existent and available On Demand and DVR technologies more integral than ever before if pay TV (be they cable, DSL, or satellite) providers want to stay in the game.
Some shows can still achieve “must see” status. ‘Game of Thrones’ for example, seems to inspire such devotion. And in keeping with our core theme here, that devotion spans generational divides, class divides, heck even nerds and non-nerds. How many shows that take place in a universe with dragons can say that?
But the broadcast networks — clearly having their hand forced, with the ante upped — have contributed to this climate of “no seriously, TV is good now” in the past few years. Such beloved series as ‘Lost,’ ‘Community,’ ’30 Rock,’ ‘Hannibal,’ ‘Friday Night Lights,” and guilty pleasures such as ‘24,’ and all the CW’s superhero shows, all came from good old fashioned free, broadcast television.
And of course cable has its megahits, by whatever metric they measure such things. The above mentioned ‘Thrones,’ the below goofed on ‘Homeland.’ That show with the zombies, which should be awesome but maybe isn’t, but is really popular. All of we here at StatSocial — well, many of us, at least — are sworn fans of ‘Silicon Valley.’ And I know our CEO — a later Millennial, I believe — was very into Westworld.
Televisual entertainment is not in short supply these days, especially if you toss in the numerous YouTube stars, and then the additional plethora of more anonymous self-produced content to be found on YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, and anywhere that hosts video.
— — — —
My family got cable television when I was 5. It came to my North Jersey town in 1976. At that age, getting to watch Philadelphia channels was inconceivably exotic. It was almost like actually being in Philadelphia and watching TV.
Anyway, my memory of TV where it was just three networks, three local channels, and PBS is faint, but it does exist. I also have vivid memories of exploring UHF at a very early age. It felt like receiving transmissions from outer space, or like I had ventured into a territory where I wasn’t quite allowed.
I had a vivid imagination as a tyke.
Speaking of tykes. One things the grouchier types say about not just Millennials, as I do more than hint at above, but our entire society (but especially Millennials), is that we/they are infantilized. Arrested in our childhood. Superhero movies dominate the cineplexes, it’s perfectly normal for grown adults, with good jobs to play video games, etc.
As one who has been a ‘Doctor Who’ fan since the age of 10, and has sat through the very worst episodes — and for a period in the mid-late-80s it was inconceivably abysmal — more than once, but I also adore the revived series. It’s like rooting for a sports team, you stand by them when they’re losing, and then you get to rejoice in their victories. I mean, it’s now a critically acclaimed, multiple BAFTA winning series. But it still provides me with palpable warmth and comfort.
My point here is that while I don’t read superhero comics, nor do I care about superhero movies. I’m also not an especially avid fan of video games (although as a kid my Atari and I were very well acquainted, and maybe in my late-teens/early-20s my Nintendos — original and eventually super NES — were not strangers either), but I’m not innocent. Heck, I thought that last ‘Mad Max’ film was genuinely beautiful.
THE TOP TV NETWORKS WITH MILLENNIALS AGES 18 TO 24
A quick glance down the list of top networks with the younger Millennials — who we remind you for this study start at age 18 — doesn’t start to definitively cease in raising a red flag until number 3, But granted, when I first got Nickelodeon in 1979, one of their most frequently aired programs was, well, this…
Looking at today’s Nickelodeon schedule I see that between 9:30 AM and 8:00 PM there are five episodes of PAW Patrol, which I know nothing about but seems like the sort of show a 21-year old should be watching, four episodes of Spongebob, three episodes of ‘The Loud House,’ two episodes of ‘The Thundermans,’ two episodes of ‘Blaze and the Monster Machines,’ and so on.
I’m assuming ‘The Loud House’ has little to do with PBS’ groundbreaking, 1974 vérité documentary series, ‘An American Family.’ Which in its day made household names of a Santa Barbara based family called the Louds, as it filmed their day-to-day lives, and wound up capturing the central couple’s separation, and one of the sons — Lance Loud, lead singer of a genuinely decent New York band called The Mumps — coming out to his parents as gay.
The series was a direct inspiration for MTV’s ‘The Real World,’ according to that show’s producers, and the meteoric popularity of that now 20-plus year old property triggered the whole darned reality TV boom. This is one 70s pop culture reference that is not entirely irrelevant. As our so-called Second Golden Age is rife with so-called reality programming.
But back to Nick and college kids, I watched ‘Ren & Stimpy’ quite regularly when in my late-teens and early-twenties. But that show was frankly wholly inappropriate for children (although I’d have been obsessed with it when I was a kid). None of these shows look like that actually quite spectacularly hilarious and bizarre creation, although it’s my understanding that Spongebob at least was a quality piece of work.
Freeform, the former ABC Family, is slightly less surprising given how popular the network’s live action adaptation of the popular YA mystery series, ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ is. PLL will dominate Twitter trends every time a season begins or ends, or any time there’s a major plot development, or even if a marathon is being aired.
Since rebranding as Freeform, the network’s focus has decidedly skewed more teenaged. But not so much college aged. But this bunch is 72% more likely to watch it than their older peers. And I guess that sort of makes sense. Still, as the next list indicates, the interests of their apparent fellows could not be more different once they cross the graduation threshold.
THE TOP TV NETWORKS WITH MILLENNIALS AGES 25 TO 34
Okay, Bravo started as a classy network, just like A&E once did, but we all know that changed a long time ago. Home shopping, lots of 24 hour news of different stripes, and an English language channel targeted at Latinos, specifically Latino Millennials. Well, while they’re not killing it, it does seem they’re reaching their target. 29% more so than they’re reaching the younger Millennials.
Then we’ve got TBS’ endless ‘Seinfeld,’ ‘Family Guy,’ and ‘Big Bang Theory’ reruns. And this group tunes in not to ESPN, at least not to a degree significantly in excess of their younger peers, but instead to the CBS Sports Network, of which they’re 88% more likely to be fans than the younger, prettier portion of the Millennial class.
— — — –
We’re going to resist commenting directly on the younger list, and instead comment by comparing and contrasting the two right off the bat.
THE TOP TV GENRES WITH MILLENNIALS AGES 18 TO 24
What is wrong with the older Millennials, is the quarter-life crisis and its fallout so bad that they’ve forgotten how to laugh? You see here a marketer is posed with a challenge. Can you restore joy and laughter to those StatSocial recognizes as having little interest in such things?
Regardless, in the here and now, on American TV, we have ‘Broad City,’ ‘Silicon Valley,’ ‘Inside Amy Schumer,’ ‘Drunk History’… And as always, ‘South Park.’
Let’s see what these poor folks are viewing in their joyless lives.
THE TOP TV GENRES WITH MILLENNIALS AGES 25 TO 34
Of course, documentaries. Probably about the trouble and strife in the world, and that’s great. It’s good to stay informed. But have these folks seen ‘American Movie’? Both inspiring and hilarious? Or how about ‘Crumb,’ or ‘Grey Gardens’? All strangely upsetting, inspiring, and amusing.
I’m with them on the music thing, and would contend this is a source of shame for the youngster Millennials tantamount to what the paucity of comedy says of the oldsters. However, this is specifically relating to TV. Is there even music on TV any longer? I may need to reconsider that judgment.
— — — — — —