Popular Shows Are Getting the Axe from A&E – is Age to Blame?

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Popular shows are normally rewarded with seasonal renewals – or even multi-year deals – but two popular shows got rewarded with cancellation earlier this year. Despite higher than average ratings, both “Longmire” and “Duck Dynasty” are getting the boot from A&E.

“Longmire” is a crime drama based on mystery books by Craig Johnson, and although popular, it was attracting the wrong audience. After three seasons, the median age of its viewers was 60 compared to 48 for other shows on the network. In addition, A&E doesn’t have ownership stake in the show – it’s produced by Warner Bros. Entertainment. The producers are scrambling to find a new venue for the show.

Part of a bigger trend. Longmire’s demise is indicative of an ongoing trend in television – advertisers catering to a younger audience, and television producers doing all that they can to please its members. As a result, the amount of people watching shows is almost less important than who is watching.

With the focus on putting out programming that appeals to younger, edgier viewers, the advertising dollars are just not being put toward these higher age skewing shows. For example, a 30-second spot during “Duck Dynasty” garners a $64,000 price tag – while the younger-skewing “Mad Men” can fetch a price of $69,000 or more. “Longmire’s” 30-second spots were just $31,300.

Older viewers are less in demand. Before Longmire, A&E canceled “The Glades,” another crime drama, for similar reasons. In addition, NBC canceled legal drama “Harry’s Law” featuring Kathy Bates because it was skewing too old. Shows are sold to advertisers based on how much of the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic they can draw in – so shows that appeal to older adults are considered to be of lower priority.


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