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Audience Segmentation

René Weber

Subject Communication Reception and Effects » Audience Research

Key-Topics pluralism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


“Audience segmentation” or “audience fragmentation” is a phenomenon that describes the process of partitioning mass audiences into smaller and smaller segments. It is considered as an inevitable outcome of competition in media markets (→  Competition in Media Systems ). Hence, audience segmentation is expected to be stronger in high- rather than in low-competition media environments (→  Audience ). The phenomenon of audience segmentation has been introduced to describe changes in the concept of an audience through the transition from old to new media environments. McQuail (1997) summarizes the concept of audience segmentation by means of four models that represent different stages in the transition. For television, which has experienced the most dramatic changes, McQuail (1997) defines these models as follows. The unitary model describes the early years of television (in the 1950s), when viewers either had no ability to select a program, because there was only one channel available, or could select at most among two or three channels. All viewers shared essentially the same television experience – there was more or less a single audience for the programs of one or a few channels. The pluralism model describes a status of “limited diversification” that came with an increased supply of television content and television channels. In many countries that introduced television ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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