CBS has long been derided by rivals for attracting TV viewers considered too old for most advertisers to care about. Now the Murder, She Wrote generation is having the last laugh. Consumers aged 18 to 24, many strapped with college debt and living in their parents’ basements, aren’t forming households or starting families the way their predecessors did. Meanwhile, the youngest members of the massive Baby Boom generation turn 48 this year. And luxury car, financial-services, and pharmaceutical companies—three of CBS’s largest ad categories—want to reach them. “While we enjoy winning in all the categories, 18 to 49 is not the end-all it’s made out to be,” Nina Tassler, CBS’s head of entertainment, told a gathering of TV critics in July.
Companies spent $12.7 billion on prime-time TV ads last year, according to researcher Kantar Media, and the tough economic times have them reconsidering just where that advertising should be targeted. With rights to the National Football League’s Super Bowl this season, CBS will likely lead in 18- to 49-year-old viewers for the first time in 20 years. That said, CBS, the most watched TV network overall, will generate more sales from ads targeting 25- to 54-year-olds, Tassler says.