“Oh man, do I want to be on Retirement Living TV?” the former host of ABC's "Good Morning America" recalled thinking to herself. The network, which has since dropped the phrase "Retirement Living" in favor of "Redefine Life," was interested in Lunden because of her experience caring for her elderly mother.
For Lunden, hosting a show on RLTV meant not only coming to terms with the idea of working for a channel aimed at Americans over 50, it also meant accepting the fact that at 61, she was right in their demographic sweet spot.
“I can't even wrap my brain around the fact that I'm 60-plus,” Lunden said with a laugh.
But after making “Taking Care With Joan Lunden” for RLTV in 2010, she's overcome any fears she had about being affiliated with the channel and has two new projects in the works. “The 50-plus audience is a force to be reckoned with,” she said
Lunden's realization is what John Erickson, the founder of RLTV, is banking on. Erickson, who made his fortune building large-scale retirement communities, launched RLTV with a goal of programming to an older audience long ignored by Hollywood and Madison Avenue.
"We [as a culture] don't have a very positive attitude about aging, said the 68-year-old Erickson during an interview from RLTV's Baltimore's headquarters. “We don't celebrate these 25 or 30 years of life in any meaningful way that give people a sense of honor or dignity and involvement.”
For decades, the television industry has built its business around reaching the 18-49 demographic. Advertisers have always paid more to reach younger viewers, believing they are easier to persuade to try new products.
Older viewers, on the other hand, have always been taken for granted. As people age, they watch more TV, so programmers and advertisers figure they don't need to make any special effort to reach out to them or create shows tailored to them. Furthermore, there is a perception that as people age, they become stuck in their ways with regards to spending habits and adapting to new technologies.
Now, though, some of those executives who preached the gospel of 18-49 are singing a different tune as they find themselves inching closer to Social Security.