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Understanding Audience

jeremy | Tuesday December 01, 2009

Categories: Key Concepts, Audience, Understanding Media, Understanding Key Concepts

Everyone has been in an audience. We have all been part of a group of people who come together to experience music, film, theatre or other live event. In media terms the audience is any group of people who receive a media text, and not just people who are together in the same place.

They receive the text via a media carrier such as a newspaper or magazine, television, DVD, radio or the internet. It can also be a mobile phone, iPod or any other device that stores or receives media messages.

‘Audience’ is a key concept throughout media studies, because all media texts are produced with an audience in mind - that is to say a group of people who will receive the text and make some sort of sense out of it.

So audience is part of the media equation – a product is produced and an audience receives it. Television producers need an audience for their programmes, so they can finance those programmes and make more programmes that the audience likes. Advertisers need an audience who will see or hear their advertisements and then buy the products.

A media text is planned with a particular audience in mind. A television producer has to explain to the broadcasting institution (e.g. BBC or ITV) who is the likely audience for this particular programme.

Are they under 25 years old or older, mainly male or mainly female, what are they interested in? The television audience varies throughout the day and night, and television and radio broadcast for 24 hours, seven days a week. How do we know who is watching or listening at any one time? This is where audience research becomes important. A media producer has to know who is the potential audience, and as much about them as possible.

Activity

Discuss the make up of the audience for the very successful US situation comedy Ugly Betty.

What does it mean for a TV show to be successful?

Audience research is a major element for any media producer. Companies are set up to carry out audience research...


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