You’ll often hear people of a certain age say, “Things used to be a lot simpler when I was growing up.”
My grandmother (born in the late 1800s) used to say it all the time, and I have no doubt her sentiments were rooted in the fact that her childhood home had no electric lighting; no telephones; no radios and no television sets.
You can even skip a generation and hear the same sentiment from a Baby Boomer born in the 1950s. Obviously there was no Internet, but essentially every other modern day convenience was available. (Of course this was a time before the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, not to mention 9/11 and the Great Recession.)
But in the context of our current blog on ABC Family’s, “The Fosters”, I suspect Baby Boomer nostalgia can be traced to just a couple of television shows — “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”, both of which portrayed remarkably homogenized and tranquil families confronted with rather minor obstacles and controversies.
Which is about as far away as one can get from the modern day family drama “The Fosters”, ABC Family’s hit series now entering its third season (premiere date – June 8th). For starters, rather than families headed up by traditional couples, such as Ward & June Cleaver (Beaver’s parents) and Ozzie & Harriet Nelson, the Foster family is headed up by two moms — an interracial lesbian couple, starring Teri Polo (as the police officer, “Stef Foster”) and Sherri Saum (as Stef’s wife, “Lena Foster”).
And that’s just for starters.
Stef and Lena Foster preside over a family of five comprised of biological, adopted and foster children, with the biological son, Brandon Foster, (played by the actor, David Lambert) Stef’s actual child she had with her ex-husband, Mike Foster, who also happens to be her police partner.
Got that? Oh, and there’s more… a lot more (such as childhood ADHD, child abuse, confusion over biological parentage, etc.) But the important thing to note is that this very contemporary family saga has attracted a solid audience, and as “The Fosters” enters its third season, it is doing so with an upward swing in U.S. household ratings and shares from Season One to Season Two:
Homes with Children
Does the multiethnic Foster family (with five kids) appeal to households with children? Based on our review of Rentrak data, the answer is a resounding, “Yes,” and it would appear that the popularity of the show increases with more children in the viewing household. For example, homes with one child averaged a .93 U.S. household rating, which is more than double the rating for homes with no children (.43). And the highest rating (1.42) occurs within homes with four or more children:
Local Cable Advertising Demand
Over the past two seasons of “The Fosters”, more than 100 clients across 41 Viamedia markets have invested in +1,000 30-second spots. And, if we confine our analysis to only those markets that exhibited advertising on the show in both years, we find very strong double-digit (+58%) growth in advertising driven primarily by an increase in the number of 30-second units. Another sure sign of advertiser support: Nearly two-thirds of returning advertisers increased their commitment to the show from Season One to Season Two.
(Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module). Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
As is the case with many high profile (non-sports) programs that we have blogged about in this space, “The Fosters” attract a significant amount of tune-in advertising (28%). And it is not a coincidence that a significant amount of tune-in is from MTV which shares a similar audience with “The Fosters”. Note as well the 9% share for Schools & Recruitment – a figure substantially higher than what we normally see (across all programming):
A Family Drama for Modern Times
I’d be the first to admit that I spent (more than) my fair share of time parked in front of a black-and-white TV set watching “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”
But was any of it real? Frankly, as an eight year old living in the suburbs, I was oblivious to the world outside the homes of the Cleavers and the Nelsons – it was oh-so cozy and reassuring.
But was any of it real?
Looking back over half a century, I’m not quite sure. What I can say is that it wasn’t all that “real” in the context of “The Fosters”, whose writers and directors have created a very different kind of family – one that represents alternative parental lifestyles, multiethnic family members, and a plotline that (at times) weaves in uncomfortable subject matter. But that, apparently, hasn’t kept away modern day viewers, who have shown enough support for the show to ensure that “The Fosters” will return to their living rooms (and mobile phones) for Season Three come this June.
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– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia