This week’s lecture was about audiences which covered mainly audience engagement, audience targeting and audience research. As most bits of media are being made they normally have an intended audience that would consume them. For example when Songs of Praise hits the box, the logical audience would be people who were much older, or show some interest into the arts or religion which is a quite niche audience. When however, a game show is aired the logical audience for that would quite a large frame bracket which, depending on the show in hand, is aimed at younger and older audiences. It seems then that when looking at terrestrial television channels have a frame in mind at whom their content is aimed at before actually making the show.
It is not however just the content that matters but also when the show is aired. For TV producers it is vital that they put their best shows on at a time when the widest possible audience bracket is available. For example if the X factor was aired at 3 in the afternoon then the audience simple wouldn’t reach the number of figures it does in it’s correct slot of Saturday and Sunday evenings where, it can reach the most the highest audience figure.
There are also other factors taken into consideration when producing a TV show for example currant ‘trends’ i.e what is popular at the moment. Right now and over the past decade the ‘in thing’ is reality TV and along with it ‘audience involvement TV’ and if you look at a list of what’s working at the moment shows like The X factor, Master chief and the now deceased Big Brother all topping the ratings chart. The question is then is how do institutions and producers alike know what’s doing well? One of the main answers is down to audience research.
The job then of audience researchers is to comb ‘the audiences’ or ‘the public’ to find out what people are watching, when they are watching it and why they are watching it just to name a few. To split up the population researchers look at the public’s income, age, gender, ethnicity and sometimes location to compile and asses what they are doing with their TV hours. This then is a good way to help make the next big talent show on TV. This makes you think; if you moan at what’s on TV shouldn’t you grumble at your fellow man rather than the producers because after all what we as a public like, eventually gets made.
These points however do not just stand for television; audience research is done for film, books, organisations and so forth. Audience research is a way of helping determine what is eventually going to be successful or for example whether something is going to work in the market place and so on. This stage is can also fit during and after an artefact is made; feedback is always needed and wanted.
Another aspect that audience researchers look at then is the social economic status of the public. When interviewing an individual about what he/she watches or what he/she didn’t like about a pilot episode of a new show or film, the social economic status of society is basically a way of categorising the public into manageable, more detailed databases in which researchers can gather and evaluate opinions and ideas to pass on to producers. The Social grades in the UK range from A to E, A being the highest class which entails the highest earners with the most paid jobs and E being the public who depend on the government to support and fund them. In between these two opposites are the upper, middle and semi-lower class.
When making an artefact of some kind the majority aim for the the middle to semi-lower class because they are known as the masses. These are the people who take in mass products such as mainstream TV, music and film. They are the ones who soak up the most media in numbers therefore producers try and get these people on board more so, especially for mainstream produce.
Now when looking at my own Cabinet of curiosities I find that the stuff I have all fits within the masses section, more towards middle lower ground. What this says then is that I select the kind of programming which caters for the most people, regardless of my individualism. It also shows that if you take a step back and look at everyone else’s collection it very much fits around the same kinds of media which I indulge in. This would say that the producers of the media are doing the right thing in creating media for my age bracket and whether we like it or not we all more or less like the same things.