In between producing television shows and movies, writing and re-writing scripts, casting, running a giant company and fulfilling the mantle of "TV's most-prolific television producer," my husband always tracked the research into how teens and younger audiences were watching their television.
If there are any doubts, remember that his career went from The Mod Squad (just for young audiences and one of the first for young adults), to multi-generational favorites such as Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat and Dynasty, and going younger again with Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed.
So, I read with great interest a report released by Nielsen at the Consumer 360 Conference this week.
"12-24 year olds are more connected, more tech savvy, and more likely to use personal devices such as smartphones, laptops and other gadgets for video viewing. They are also less likely to watch traditional television. But much of this is driven by economic necessity and lifestyle choices, and is likely to change as the younger becomes the older generation."
If you remove equipment such as smartphones and laptops and substitute them with transistor radios, the Walkman, the VCR and boom boxes, not much has changed but the technology. The teens' viewing habits during the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s also created new patterns from previous generations. That's nothing new.
The report went on:
"Young people's media habits seem to have more to do with their specific life stage than with their particular generation. Teens living at home tend to watch more TV overall than 18-24 year olds busy with college or their first jobs. But the 'first screen,' TV, is less central to both. That may be because they either don't have a TV in their bedrooms or dorm rooms, or because they have to negotiate control of the remote with others in their household. Lower TV viewing by 18-24 year olds may also be due to the fact that they tend to be out-and-about more than older folks (especially during prime time)."
That could have come straight from one of those network reports Aaron brought home 30 or 40 years ago. Remember, too, that the VCR and then DVD came about during his run, and they were very threatening to perceived TV viewing habits. Fear ran rampant in the industry.
We keep scaring ourselves that everything is different. Much of it is, but that's how our world works. My husband passed away only four years ago this month, yet he could not have imagined that his wife would carry around an iPad and do everything from write and answer email, to edit my phonebook, read magazines and watch TV and movies (and, yes, I do have Maj Jongg games on it).
The story on NielsenWire was headlined: "How Teens Watch: The Future (of Media) is in Their Hands."
You know, it's still really not. The next Aaron Spellings and Lew Wassermans and Dick Powells and Carl Reiners and Lucille Balls are still helping decide what goes in their hands and on their various-sized screens.