Talkin' 'bout my demographic: Retirement Living TV
Sometime in the coming months, President Obama has signaled that he will be talkin' 'bout entitlements. I'm quite sure that those of us in the first wave of Boomers, now in spitting distance of the promised land of Social Security and Medicare, won't be all that thrilled with what he has to say. (And I'm quite sure the wave behind us will be even less enamored.)
While there will be no way to gently break it to us Boomers that we'll be facing some combination of skimpier benefits and later retirement dates, our incredible shrinking 401K's have already sent us the message that a lot of us will be working beyond the soon-to-be-mythic retirement age of 65.
I think that most of us are okay with that. Sure, all things considered, most of us would opt for the luxury of having enough wealth to live comfortably on, without having to worry about a paycheck. But as long as you're working at something you enjoy, and as long as you're physically able, why not work?
After all, that soon-to-be-mythic retirement age of 65 was established when most people were dead by the time they were 66, and when so many people were engaged in physically demanding, often hazardous, work that they weren't able to keep going much beyond their retirement date (if they even made it that far).
Not us: we're going to be around a while longer, so we might as well work, giving us the combo package of income and social interaction.
Of course, now that we're all going to be working, it will be interesting to see who's going to want us. At least pre-recession, we were always reading about the coming shortage of skilled workers, which would keep us Boomers in demand and able to work the flexible schedules we're looking for. But I'm not quite sure that ever really happened. Maybe if there were a better health insurance system, companies would be more likely to bring oldsters on. There's sure reason to avoid us now, what with our premium inflating aches, pains, and pharmaceutical requirements. (Ah, this generation always was into those pharmaceuticals, wasn't it?)
In any event, most of us will probably not be able to just chill, grab the channel cruiser and click onto Retirement Living TV.
RLTV, you might ask?
Well, I'd never heard of it, either, until my brother-in-law Rick, sent me a link to an article he saw in The Journal on their new deal with Comcast, which will bring their AARP-ish programming to a larger audience, starting with retirement communities in the sunbelt. (Access to this article may require a subscription - I almost typed prescription - a little senior moment, I guess.)
The Comcast deal is predicated on marketers' willingness to go after the "older crowd" - the demo for RLTV is 50+. (Fifty! Does anyone know anyone sixty who's sitting around watching RLTV, let alone anyone fifty? This is like those plus-size stores that advertise that they carry Size 12 and over - as if any one who wears a Size 12 would be caught dead shopping in one. Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to say caught dead. I meant to say caught pre-dead. After all, aging can be fun!)
RLTV is currently on during daytime hours only - we retire early, us 50+-ers - and covers health, finance, entertainment, current events, and other topics of interest.
Florence Henderson, late of the Brady Bunch and those Wessonality crunch ads, and more recently of denture ads, will be hosting a talk show. There's a dating show - Another Chance for Romance. (Sigh!) There may also be a series patterned on American Idol dubbed, what else, Senior Idol. (Who will they tap to play the role of the nasty judge? The guy who played Eddie Haskell? Don Rickles? Cloris Leachman channeling her Phyllis character?)
Even if I were going to retire anytime soon, I don't imagine I'd be spending a lot of time watching RLTV - although I did see that my fave gossip writer, Kitty Kelly, was on the other day. (I understand her next unauthorized bio is of Oprah, which doesn't have the appeal to me that her Nancy Reagan, Jackie O, and Frank Sinatra works did. Frankly, I'd rather see her take on Roger Clemens.)
Although I probably won't be watching, I do hope that RLTV manages to attract advertisers for products other than those related to irregularity and bladder control. The WSJ article mentions that Sony, L'Oreal, Ford, and Microsoft "have aggressively pursued an older crowd." (I must have missed the aggressive pursuit, although maybe that's how we ended up with that whomping big Sony flatscreen TV.)
But maybe my concerns about bladder control ads are just betraying my underlying ageism. As RLTV's founder John Erickson says:
"We have a significant ageism bias in our country...I wanted to take all that negative 'Oh, they're really supposed to sit at home in a rocking chair and watch reruns' and say this isn't the way life works at all."
Well, he's got a point, although I don't see all that much difference between sitting at home watching reruns and sitting at home and watching Florence Henderson.
There are other networks that have targeted Baby Boomers and older viewers over the last few years - the Hallmark Channel (sniff, sniff, weep, weep, oh-how-noble) and TV Land, which shows things like Hogan's Heroes, Gunsmoke and other stellar entertainment of from those long ago days of The Golden Age of Television. (Hmmmm, whoever came up with that term apparently never watched Red Skelton or I Married Joan.)
TV Land, though, is trying to shift their demographic to skew slightly younger. They're moving away from using the word "Boomer" and are planning on focusing on folks between the ages of 40 and 50.
I'm not sure if this means older is getting younger, or younger is getting older, but I think I'd can Gunsmoke if I were going after people in their forties.
Meanwhile, RLTV is going to keep their eye on the geezer prize, and says that, hell, no, they won't go any younger than 50. (For that, I thank you, Mr. Erickson.)
He is, however, considering the possibility of a name change.
I think this is an excellent idea - which I had already thought of even before I came to this point in the article.
RLTV, he admits, "could turn off people at the bottom of his age range."
Or maybe even people in the middle of his range.
But naming is so hard.
Anything Boomerish would turn off the over and unders. Anything gold or silver will turn off anyone under eighty. WE, I think is taken.
What about Us?
Plays nicely to the Boomer narcissism and shouldn't bother the flanking generations.
Yeah, I'm liking it. What about Us?