July 10, 2012

THE SKED: “Perception” Perceived Mostly By Older Viewers

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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TNT’s much-ballyhooed launch of PERCEPTION scored very well in total audience, with a viewership of 5.6M people, holding on to 90% of its lead-in, the final season premiere of THE CLOSER.  But like The Closer, Perception skewed extremely old.  It will have around a 0.8 rating in 18-49s (slightly behind The Closer‘s 0.9), which means an astounding 80% of its audience was over 50 years old.  That makes A&E’s Longmire seem positively spry–and Longmire, with its western setting and relatively elderly, widowed hero, was intended for an older audience.  Perception, with Eric McCormack and Rachael Leigh Cook in the leads, was presumably designed to draw a much more mainstream viewership.  Although Perception‘s numbers were comparable to The Closer‘s, it was far older-skewing than anything else on TNT.  Even the audience for Dallas, which one would expect to be the definition of old-skewing, is 40% under 50. Perception is also, already, the lowest-rated original series on TNT with 18-49s (tied with the much younger-skewing but less-watched Franklin & Bash) other than the unscripted Great Escape.

What does this mean for TNT?  Much will depend, of course, on how Perception‘s numbers hold up during its run.  But for now, despite its relatively large total audience, the series will have to charge a discounted rate for advertising, since sponsors won’t pay as much for an over-50 audience as for 18-49s (the theory is that older viewers already know what they do and don’t buy, and are less susceptible to the siren call of marketing).  If the numbers slip, as they often do after a heavily marketed premiere, the show’s revenues could quickly hit a danger area.

It would probably be best if no one told McCormack’s paranoid schizophrenic lead character this news just yet…


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."