Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

August 5, 1998
The recent cancellation of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman makes an interesting case for the perverse values of network television. This was what many people would call a family-friendly show. Obviously it had its share of politically correct rhetoric, but the point I am making is that it was a program that did promote a number of family values and also attracted a large audience--approximately 12 million.

So why was the program canceled? Not because the audience wasn't large, but because the audience had the wrong demographics. You see, companies that buy commercials pays big bucks to networks for delivering their ads to urban, college-educated people between the ages of 18 and 49. If you are younger, older, or live in small rural town, you don't count for much. As the CBS President put it, "we get paid zero--not a nickel, but zero--for anybody over 55."

That was the supposed problem with Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, as well as Murder, She Wrote and Christy. The programs were "skewing old" and that, my friends, is the kiss of death in television. Never mind that people over the age of 55 spend lots of money. Advertisers believe that their spending patterns are already fixed. So they go after older teenagers and young adults.

So the hot shows are the ones that deliver the demographics. Twice as many people watched Dr. Quinn as watched Dawson's Creek, but Dawson's Creek is considered a hit. More people watch Touched by an Angel than watch Ally McBeal or Melrose Place. Guess which shows are considered a hit? The two hip, yuppie shows.

So the next time your favorite show is canceled even though it is doing well in the ratings, just remember that your opinion doesn't count, unless you are in the 18-49 urban demographic.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International