Go to bed, Pop. There's nothing for you to watch on TV tonight.

On New Year's Eve, more than most nights, youth must be super-served.

The networks are ringing in 2010 with specials featuring a lineup of talent that includes Green Day, Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas, Orianthi, Daughtry, Allison Iraheta, and Kris Allen.

Starting to feel old yet?

One of the performers on ABC's Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest is 15-year-old phenom Justin Bieber. Is he even allowed to stay up until midnight?

"Long gone is the time when Guy Lombardo was representative of New Year's Eve," says John Rash, senior vice president of media research for the Campbell Mithun advertising agency. "Now it's Lady Gaga."

Over three decades, 1956 to 1976, bandleader Lombardo was a national institution, Father Time with a baton, ushering in each new year with a muzzy rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" on CBS. (Lawrence Welk also hosted New Year's Eve specials on ABC sporadically in the '60s and '70s.)

"Celebrating New Year's Eve on the air goes back as far as television itself," says TV historian Tim Brooks, co-author of The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows. "When it started, TV was very mainstream and adult. Guy was the tradition. By the '60s, as rock music took over radio, that began to look very old-fashioned."

You can blame Dick Clark for turning up the volume on the final night of the year. In 1972, the maestro of American Bandstand, then known as America's Oldest Teenager, hosted his inaugural New Year's Rockin' Eve, with appearances by then-hip acts such as Three Dog Night, Al Green, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Helen Reddy.

Taking a slap at Lombardo, Clark said at the time, "It wasn't the Waldorf-Astoria with the people dancing cheek-to-jowl in their tuxedos and funny hats."

Recently turned 80, Clark has had primarily a ceremonial presence on his annual special since his stroke in 2004.

He recalls the initial broadcast as being pretty sketchy, saying in an e-mail, "The crew consisted of a cameraman, a stage manager, my wife and I. The four of us were on top of a building overseeing the festivities in Times Square."

Clark's counterprogramming coup, reflective of TV's ever-growing obsession with younger viewers, has been widely cloned.

"The broadcast networks all have the same mentality," says Marc Berman, television analyst for mediaweek. "They don't want older viewers. They don't see the value of them."

Rash concurs, saying, "The target is always ad-centric adults, 18-49" years old. "Even the more mature end of that demographic is a generation where New Year's Eve has been more lively, outdoors, and dominated by rock music. So all the networks to some extent are putting on different versions of the same entertainment ethos."

There are a couple of problems with this programming approach.

All these shows are fighting over a skimpy wedge of pie, because the youngsters to whom this music appeals are highly unlikely to be tuned in at the appointed hour.

"At that age, you're out having a grand old time," Berman says. "You're not home watching New Year's Eve specials."

And if you're old enough to be settled in at home, you may well be unfamiliar with the TV headliners.

"Every year it seems to be a new batch of Top 20 artists," says Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at Horizon Media. "They're acts you've never heard of and you're never going to hear of again."

If you are determined to stay up, and Selena Gomez, Colbie Caillat, and Robin Thicke aren't your flute of champagne, you can always pass the time watching WHYY TV12.

The calendar will turn tonight right after an episode of The Jack Benny Show and just before a vintage rerun of Dragnet.

Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/daveondemand.