The ad community calls it a missed opportunity and the TV execs blame the DVR, VOD, and new media. They claim the family doesn't watch together anymore and it is not possible to reach them like the past. I disagree. And so does the Association of National Advertisers. "For their part, ANA-affiliated advertisers don't seem to be buying into the notion that the networks are simply reflecting a new vision of the American family that's moved past 'The Cosbys.'"
As evidence, I point to family friendly programming like American Idol, watchable by any and every age group and a ratings juggernaut. In addition, the networks let cable take over this type of programming mix and Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and ABC Family have brought family friendly shows to the TV screen. And there are a number of shows doing quite well, including Spongebob, Wizards of Waverly Place, Phineas & Ferb, Hannah Montana, Drake and Josh, and others. These and others are proven easy to watch as a family and so likable that kids are willing to watch the same episode multiple times. And while my family DVRs a number of these programs, my kids prefer watching the commercials and not skipping.
And so audiences have left broadcast for cable and continue to disperse as networks lose their sight of how to reach their audience. Fox did it with American Idol. CBS has Amazing Race. What the networks need to do is bring back family friendly scripted shows. The Family Hour is NOT a relic, but some TV EXECS are!