I watch quite a few of the PBS YouTube shows, such as BrainCraft, Gross Science, It’s Okay to Be Smart, Physics Girl and occasionally Crash Course and Deep Look. They’re great shows, and I love learning the things they teach.
Recently one of them asked me to complete a survey, and I’m a bit miffed, because it turns out, they don’t care much about me.
Here’s the bit that annoyed me — the PBS Digital Studios Audience Survey starts like this:
1. What is your age?
- 12 or under
- 13 to 17
- 18 to 24
- 25 to 34
- 35 to 44
What fine, granular, age distinctions, until you hit 45 and then bam! The swathe of viewers aged between 44 and let’s say 125, are all bunged in together.
So, a 13 year old is seen as distinct from an 18 year old, but a 45 year old is the same as a 95 year old? I don’t think so.
I realised it leaves me feeling sidelined, ignored, overlooked. Those of us over 45 are just a bunch of viewers they don’t care about.
It may well be that most of their viewers are under 45, but what’s the problem with gathering fine data? Is it an extra column or two in a spreadsheet that’s the problem? Wouldn’t they like to know anything about older viewers?
Almost 187 million are aged below 45, while around 122 million are aged 45 and over. Rounded off, that means that 40% of the US population is aged over 45 and 60% is under, or at least it was in 2010.
What possible valid reason can a survey have for simply aggregating the data about their viewers who are over 45 before they know what that data is?
And just in case you’re not convinced, compare the age question with the race / gender question. What say that question simply gave the options of white and non-white? I’m glad to say it doesn’t do that, but once upon a time it might have.