This probably isn't going to help Erin Andrews win over Team Brooke fans, but it may explain some of the thinking behind the changes on Dancing With the Stars Season 18.
Us Weekly talked to an unnamed insider about Brooke Burke-Charvet's last-minute replacement. The source said Erin's fan base factored into the decision. "Everyone loved [Brooke], but the execs wanted a whole new show.” They added that the Fox Sports reporter’s "young male following" was a draw for ABC, since "they're desperate for those viewers."
Do you think Erin will bring more young male viewers to the show? DWTS isn't really geared toward that demographic, unless the guys happen to love ballroom dancing or just want to watch all the gorgeous female pros dancing around in next to nothing. But it's no secret that DWTS has lost viewers over the years — it was above 20 million as of Season 12 and now it's closer to the 13 and 14 million range — and it's really angling to regain fans in that advertiser-loved 18-49 demographic.
Why would DWTS care so much about getting young men to watch? A 2010 story out of the New York Times explains the situation pretty well — and this was done back when DWTS was doing much better in overall viewers: "Dancing is a show with a serious tilt toward women viewers over 50 years old,” they wrote. “Last week, for example, of those 23 million total viewers, 10 million, or about 43 percent, were women over 50. (Another 3.9 million were men over 50.)" They referenced this in a story about why American Idol could charge so much more for ads than DWTS, and the answer was because of Idol’s younger audience. "That is not because advertisers do not like older women, but because they are so easy to find all over the rest of television."
DWTS's has what's considered an "attainable" audience, and even though it may seem strange for advertisers to focus away from an older demographic with more actual money to spend, it’s the “scarcity argument” that counts. As the NY Times put it, “advertisers pay more to reach people who do not watch much television. Thus, the most prized viewers of all watch the least amount of television: men under 35. The younger women who watch Idol are also highly valuable to certain advertisers.”
So that’s definitely something to keep in mind through all of the DWTS changes. This Season 18 reboot — from the band to the co-host — does seem like an attempt to create "a whole new show" to attract a fresh new demo. Maybe they figure if people tune in to the premiere to see all the changes, including Erin and Ray Chew's new band, they'll get as addicted as the rest of us and keep watching.
Change is tough on loyal DWTS viewers, but the longterm goal has to be to keep the show alive for as long as possible. Do you think it will work?
DWTS Season 18 premieres Monday, March 17 on ABC. The spring 2014 cast will be revealed Tuesday, March 4 on Good Morning America.
Sources: Us Weekly, New York Times