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SportsColumnistsNeil Best

Neil Best says goodbye to Budweiser, Ford, FanDuel: 55 is irrelevant to marketers

The Team Visa Summit event in San Francisco

The Team Visa Summit event in San Francisco on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Credit: AP

Bye-bye, Budweiser. Farewell, Ford. Hasta la vista, Visa. Adieu, FanDuel.

After Friday, I will be dead to you. No hard feelings, though. It was a good run, one that began before the introductions of the cellphone, Walkman and ESPN.

You know the old theory about athletes dying twice, once when they stop playing and again when they stop breathing? Well, consumers of sports media are kind of like that, starting with the day we turn 55.

My turn comes Saturday, when I flip to double nickels and come up tails. You see, advertisers generally are interested only in reaching humans between 18 and 49, or 25 and 54, depending on how they slice and dice their priorities.

But 55? Um, no -- at least outside of programming that reaches deep into senior citizenry. Even I'm not old enough for most of the products advertised on the broadcast networks' evening newscasts.

Anyway, back to sports. Did I mention I'm finished, done, kaput?

Nielsen focuses mostly on the 18-to-49 demographic in its TV ratings, but many companies appreciate the slightly older 25-to-54-year-olds, who have more disposable cash while still being young enough to learn new product tricks.

There is no such debate in the local sports talk radio wars. For WFAN and ESPN, the only demo that really counts is men 25-54. When Mike Francesa says he is No. 1, that's the No. 1 he means, not women or teenagers or old men.

So come Monday, I can listen to polka every morning for eternity, and Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton will not care. I can tune to SiriusXM's old-school hip-hop channel every afternoon, and Francesa and Michael Kay won't notice I'm gone.

(Boomer turns 55 in April, by the way. After Kay in February. And also, while we're at it, Robin Roberts in November, Wayne Gretzky in January, Barack Obama in August and Heather Locklear next September.)

I was born Oct. 3, 1960, the ninth anniversary of Bobby Thomson's home run and the very day "The Andy Griffith Show" premiered. (I told Ron Howard about that a couple of years ago; he is so nice, he pretended to care.)

If you're keeping score at home, that means the 1905 World Series was contested closer to the day I was born than the 2015 World Series will be.

Many have questioned over the years how and why 55-year-olds remain irrelevant to marketers in an era when many Baby Boomers are active, healthy and at or near the end of college tuition bills.

Good question. But why look a gift horse in the mouth? Isn't it better to be left alone?

Now I can skip commercials without feeling guilty about it. Well, OK, I did not feel guilty before. But now even the companies buying the ads don't mind if I take the extra bathroom breaks that come with advancing age. It's liberating!

Meanwhile, I do have one day left. Friday night, this Bud's for me. Saturday night, I will break out the good stuff.

New York Sports