Audience Dynamics and Market Share Transfer

Abstract

The concept of audience changed over the time depending on new theoretical and empirical axes׃ the sender approach and the receiver approach. The sender approach represents the studies conducted by media companies as a marketing activity. Those companies are interested in the public or audience as a market that buys their products and provides benefits for the shareholders. The receiver approach is mainly developed by public and ⁄or academic institutions to investigate the media consumption and their effects (on short or long term) on the public. Based on audience study for Romanian TV channels we will analyse the evolution of audience figures from the sender perspective. We used data from the National Audience Study. Conclusions will be drawn by applying niches theory. This analysis can explain the mutations we see on the media market, the transfer of the audience from an old medium to a newer one.

Keywords: Audience studymedia marketTV channelniches theory

Introduction

Past research on mass media highlighted the fact people choose media products being motivated by

the desire to satisfy different functions: advertisement, information, identity, social values, etc. One of

the first research in this field is Herzog’s (1944) who used formula uses and gratifications in order to

explain radio audience satisfaction. In the following years, researches have been conducted to explore

newspapers, television, mobile phones, electronic newsletters, etc. When a new medium is used for the

same purpose as an old medium, then the new medium is seen as an alternative of the other.

In this paper we will study TV audience and what happens when there are new comers on the TV

market, new TV channels that could ‘damage’ the established public. In these circumstances, the public

could migrate towards a new TV channel, could stay with the old ones, or could split preferences.

Thus, audience may choose between TV channels, according to the needs they satisfy.

The concept of audience changed over the time depending on new theoretical and empirical axes׃

the sender approach and the receiver approach.

The sender approach represents the studies conducted by media companies as a marketing activity.

Those companies are interested in the public or audience as a market that buys their products and

provides benefits for the shareholders.

The receiver approach is mainly developed by public and ⁄or academic institutions to investigate the

media consumption and their effects (on short or long term) on the public.

Based on audience study for Romanian TV channels we will analyze the evolution of audience

figures from the sender perspective. We used data from the National Audience Study. Data are

available on line at www.arma.org.ro and www.paginademedia.ro.

Conclusions will be drawn by applying niches theory. New TV channels emergence may or may not

create a competition with older, more established media, because audience may choose between them

by determining which one responds to their particular needs. The scientists try to explain this

competition using the ecological niche theory approach.

Niche Theory

Niche theory is a method used by Dimmik and Rothenbuhler (1984) to explain the competition in

the media environment and the consequences brought by a new medium.

According to the niche theory, the media environment could be seen as ecological spaces where the

biological populations compete one against the other for living resources (food, water, territory, living

conditions, etc.). According to the niche theory, the position of a medium is determined by the pattern

of resource usage that is its survival or growth in a competition environment. We can consider the

resource space as composed by microdimensions like gratifications, advertising, consumer time,

audience numbers, and consumer spending.

We will outline the niches’ indicators of coexistence, replacement or displacement of new TV

channels (Ramirez & all, 2008). Dimmik defined three niche indicators:

Niche breadth (Usually, niche breadth measures how generalized or specialized a medium is

perceived to be. A high score suggests generalism, while a low score indicates specialism).

Niche overlap (It quantifies the degree of competition between two populations ,assuming resources

are finite).

Niche superiority (It measures which of the two media being tested is perceived to be better or more

efficient at fulfilling a specific gratification).

This analysis explained the mutations we see on the media market, the transfer of the audience from

an old medium to a newer one. More details of calculating these indicators can be found in Stefanescu

(2011).

Audience research in Romania

Speaking about audience research we make distinction between commercial surveys like nowadays

peoplemeter and the complex sociological inquiries that investigate audience under several aspects as –

attitudes evaluation, motivations and public satisfaction, life styles and cultural practice.

On the Romanian market there are or were a number of audiometry companies (AGB Data

Research, CSOP Tyler Nielsen SOFRES Mediametrie, TNS-AGB International, GfK, etc.) that made

quantitative studies on audience, but tried also qualitative methods, like the Media departments of

IMAS, CURS or IRSOP as well as academic research centers in communication studies like Center for

Media Studies and New Communication Technologies (University of Bucharest) and others.

The audience’s studies began with TV audience measurement that started in 1993. At the beginning,

the National Council of the Audiovisual (established 1992) ordered these studies (see www.sna.ro).

Until 1997 audience measurement used paper diaries filled by TV viewers from a selected cohort.

Starting 1998, the measurement is done by peoplemeters. In order to provide reliable data, the

measurement is controlled by a large association of media actors – The Romanian Association of

Audience Measurement (www.arma.ro). The present national study of audience uses a representative

panel of 1200 households to measure TV consumption and the socio-demographic profile of TV

viewers.

In the last decades, the academic research was investigating the audience on the following axis׃

Social composition of the audience

Media effects, especially on children

Cultural consumption practices

Uses and gratification approach of media use

Analysis of specific groups (e.g. children of different ages, or couples of children and parents, etc.).

TV channels’ niches

In the period 2009-2015, four new TV stations were opened: two dedicated to the children (Disney

Junior-2012 and Boomerang 2009/2015) and other two Romanian channels, one for news (Romania

TV -2011) and one for entertainment (Antena Stars- 2013).

Our purpose is to watch if those four new channels got audience and what was their dynamics in audience. In other words, according to niche theory, if these new populations found resources for surviving. For mass media, the most important resource for surviving is the public, the audience.

In Table 1, there are numbers representing the average daily audience of the main TV channels in

Romania (public and commercial), in a series of 7 years (2009-2015).

Figure 1: Table 1. Average daily audience 2009-2015 (thousands)
Table 1. Average daily audience 2009-2015 (thousands)
See Full Size >

The table shows the two absolute audience leaders (ProTV and Antena 1). In order to get a relevant

picture, we eliminated the sport channels, and the music channels. The diagram in Fig. 1 shows the

surfaces of audience for every TV channel mentioned in the Table 1, starting with the two leaders, on

the bottom, and ending with the minor ones at the top of the picture. The actual audience trend is

decreasing for all the TV channels, but still the order is kept.

As an exception, the four new TV channels try to gain resources and their audience number

increased at the beginning, now they are stable.

In order to be more visible we eliminated from the diagram the two audience leaders that were not

disturbed by the new entries. But, if we look attentively the niches are ‘feeding’ with the others’

audience and narrow their surface.

With an areas diagram (Fig. 2), one could see the niches, the surfaces that the four new TV channels

are spreading. There are two thin black lines for the new children’s channels and two white consistent

areas representing Romania TV and Antena Stars.

Figure 2: Average daily audience TV stations (2009-2015)
Average daily audience TV stations (2009-2015)
See Full Size >
Figure 3: Fig. 2. Niches of new TV channels ( In black and white colours)
Fig. 2. Niches of new TV channels ( In black and white colours)
See Full Size >

Conclusions

Although in present days television is the main information channel in Romania, new media gains

the interest of younger and educated people, despite print media. The radio has a low but stable

audience and moved to digital. Dragan (2007) revealed that at family level people watch TV for

relaxation and fun, but at individual level media consumption is motivated by understanding society

and information. This suggests we could orient our future research on two analysis units: family and

individual.

From the perspective of niche theory, the utility of a medium to fulfil the needs of its users and to

give them gratification opportunities is vital to its survival and growth in a resource space.

As we noticed in the descripted analysis above, the niches exists and our research will be targeted on

the identification of consuming practices and gratifications offered by using old and/or new TV

channels. So, future analysis/surveys will be dedicated to explain the factors that determine the

audience dynamics.

References

  1. Dragan, I. (2007). Comunicarea. Paradigme si teorii, vol 1 si 2. Bucuresti: Rao.
  2. Dimmick, J., & Rothenbuhler, E. (1984). The Theory of the Niche: Quantifying Competition Among Media Industries. Journal of Communication, 34(1), 103–119.
  3. Herzog, H. ( 1944). Motivations and Gratifications of Daily Serial Listeners, Radio Research 1942-1943, eds. Paul Lazarsfeld and Frank Stanton( N. Y. , Duell, Sloan and Pierce, 1944) Ramirez, A., Dimmick, J., Feaster, J., & Lin, S. (2008). Revisiting interpersonal media competition: The gratification niches of instant messaging, e-mail, and the telephone. Communication Research, 35, 529-547. Stefanescu, P. (2007). La reconfiguration du marché des médias roumains. In Rogojinaru, A (coord), Comunicare si cultura organizationala-idei si practici in actualitate, Tritonic, Bucuresti.
  4. Stefanescu, P. (2011). New communication technologies competition and coexistence. Proceedings of ICEA-FAA Conference, 2011.
  5. www.paginademedia.ro www.arma.org.ro www.brat.ro

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Publisher

Future Academy

First Online

18.12.2019

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2016.09.118

Online ISSN

2357-1330