ETV needs to think really hard about its demographics


I’ve read that public broadcasting is in trouble because its audience is aging. (OK, what I read was about NPR, but can’t the same be said about PBS?)

But you’d think they’d want to do something about that, instead of rolling with it to this extent.

Tonight, ETV is offering a deal to donors: Give at a certain basic level, and you get a CD of a documentary about… wait for it… Bob Hope! (Here’s who that was, kids.)

Then, if you give a little more, you get… CDs of all the “Road” pictures with Bing Crosby!

And if you give more, you get more Bob Hope stuff!

How shall I put this? I’m 64 years old — well into my dotage, as the Beatles (I’ll explain later who they were) once reckoned it — and Bob Hope was popular way, way, WAY before my time. I mean, my mother was only 9 years old when the first “Road” picture came out, so I’m thinking it was aimed more at her parents.

When I was young, only Lawrence Welk was more identified with the blue-haired set.

So, what’s the deal here? Why is this the pitch? I’m genuinely puzzled…

I shot this during one of the promotions. I shot it off the old cathode-ray tube upstairs instead of the HD model, because it seemed appropriate.

I shot this during one of the promotions. I shot it off the old cathode-ray tube upstairs instead of the HD model, because it seemed appropriate. A narrator said Hope and Crosby sort of invented the “breaking the fourth wall” thing, so they were cutting-edge. In 1940…

10 thoughts on “ETV needs to think really hard about its demographics

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, now I’m watching some of the documentary about Hope and thinking, well, he WAS good, and maybe I’m being a little harsh.

    But still. Isn’t there a problem here? I want public broadcasting to stick around; I think it’s great. And so I’m worried about this fund-raising strategy.

    I mean, I thought the fund-raisers where they show nothing but concerts by musicians who were popular 50 years ago was a bit off the smart path — watching all those gray-haired people in the audience singing along to every song — but this really takes the cake…

  2. Richard

    I met him at the Gerald Ford Pro-Am Golf Tournament in 1988, he was just like he is on screen… one of those guys who probably doesn’t get excited or mad. Besides who watches PBS but you 64+ year olds. I quit watching it when they stopped running the Red Green Show.

    Good article about Hillary in the news today.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      OW! I just got whiplash there.

      This is becoming a common occurrence, a form of greeting among a certain segment the electorate:

      Average person: Hey, how are you? Nice weather we’re having, ain’t it?…

      Trump supporter: Crooked Hillary!

  3. Mike F.

    They did the Beatles on Saturday night! Was a good film, too, but your point stands.

    I earnestly await the first Pearl Jam PBS special.

  4. Bill

    don’t make people look at bob hope
    he was AWFUL
    scenes from a marriage THAT was exquisitely depressing glory days…

  5. Norm Ivey

    Scrolling through ETV’s prime-time programming for the next few days, I see big bands, the Beatles, Viet Nam, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Graham Nash, Johnny Mathis and and David Foster (a producer for some of the biggest names of the 1970s and 80s).

    Maybe that’s the programming that appeals to their donor class demographic? Don’t get me wrong–I’d enjoy most of those programs myself, but younger demographics may not feel the need to donate.

Comments are closed.