Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

The longtime mantra and rallying cry downplaying the importance of the 18-49 demographic continued apace today for CBS during its TCA day in spite of the network’s status atop the 18-49 mountain. It began following Les Moonves‘ morning executive session fill-in for Nina Tassler when Moonves railed to a huddled group of reporters about how “vastly overrated and exaggerated” the trade media’s harping on 18-49 remains. And once Moonves laid the ball down, CBS Corp.’s chief
research officer David Poltrack picked it up and kept moving it downfield during his annual numbers-crunching analysis this morning. Dismissing the conventional wisdom that advertisers covet 18-49 and little else, Poltrack reasoned, “I can assure you that the overwhelming majority of big advertisers care about far more than that audience and are in fact no longer looking at age and gender alone.” A key reason for this, Poltrack maintained, is that the 18-49 segment has itself been in steep decline for better than a decade. Whereas in 2002 the 18-49 demo represented 62 percent of the U.S. adult population, today it’s just 55 percent. “And in two years, it will be just 53 percent,” he added.

Moreover, Poltrack noted that as Baby Boomers move out of 18-49 and Millennials move in, the composition of the segment is getting younger. This is naturally of great concern to the broadcast nets, and every other network, because young adults watch so much less television, Poltrack stressed. And 18-49 is poised to erode even further as young people in greater numbers continue to move back in with, or remain under the roof of, their parents. “This makes them of limited interest to a substantial number of advertisers,” he said. “The bottom line is the 18-49 audience is in decline, there are fewer of then, and on average they will be younger.” Moreover, Poltrack said, “The more value that’s attributed to older viewers, the better for CBS.”