Oscars 2014: Will the TV audience this year be the oldest ever?

If the TV audience for the Oscars were a person, it might soon be eligible for the senior discount. 

Sunday's Academy Awards presentation ABC is almost certain to generate big ratings. After all, the Ellen DeGeneres-hosted event will feature an all-star cast of presenters, including Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lawrence, and will honor popular films such as "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "12 Years a Slave."

But here's a less-celebrated fact about Oscar viewers: They aren't getting any younger.

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The median age for the telecast's TV audience has been creeping up for years and is now well outside the ages 18-to-49 demographic that major advertisers like to see.

Last year, the median age stood at 51.4 years, down only slightly from the previous year's all-time high of 52.8, according to an analysis of Nielsen data provided by New York ad firm Horizon Media. By comparison, the 1992 telecast had a median age of 39.9 -- a spring chicken by today's standards.

What's the problem? The old fogeydom afflicting the Oscars is partly due to the overall graying of the network TV audience, which you can read more about here. As twentysomethings flee for cable and tablets and teenagers stick with Instagram, only Ma and Pa -- and maybe Grandma? -- are left watching the flat screen in the living room.

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But that's not all. As many Oscar-watchers have pointed out, academy voters generally can't be bothered with the kinds of films that teenagers and young adults like. This year is no exception, with mature-themed best picture nominees such as "Philomena" and "Nebraska" practically guaranteed to drive away youngsters.

So don't be surprised if this year's Oscar audience continues the graying trend. The rest of TV may be chasing youth, but the Academy Awards show is one place where the early-bird-buffet crowd is welcome.

What do you think of the Oscars?


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