Preferences for TV Content Genre: What Sydney Viewers Want
Television audiences have been studied at a micro-level (individuals as the units of analysis to
understand what channels or repertoires they watch) or macro-level (aggregated demand by
audiences) (Webster and Phalen, 1997; Yuan, 2009). In markets with few dominant channels,
audience concentration follows the ‘long-tail’ phenomenon (Anderson, 2006), where a small
amount of content accounts for a disproportionately large share of the audience (Yuan, 2009).
With the introduction of greater channel choice, audience fragmentation occurs (Webster,
2005), as the total viewing audience is spread among more channels (Yuan, 2009).
When viewers can choose from many channels, most viewers are not aware of all the options
available to them and tend to select ‘brand names’ as an aid to simplify their choice (Cooper,
1996). Correspondingly, an abundance of channel choice and alternatives such as the internet
can lead to viewers tending to have a limited and relatively small repertoire of preferred
channels and programs that they frequently and heavily use (Yuan, 2009). For example, the
introduction of cable television in the US has facilitated selectivity due to greater channel
options (Jeffres, 1978).
In Australia, competition for establishing, maintaining and expanding television viewer
market share is increasingly difficult because of the number of new television channels (such
as Pay TV, SBS2 and ABC2) and the proliferation of alternative entertainment sources (such
as the internet, video rentals and digital radio). A greater number of channels fragment the
traditional television viewer markets (Webster, 1985) and have resulted in increased
competition for advertiser revenue, as evidenced by a predicted lag in growth of spending on
free-to-air TV compared with radio, Pay TV and the internet over the next five years (BRW,