Beneath the veneer of fragmentation: Television audience polarization in a multichannel world

James G. Webster*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study reviews the history of television audience fragmentation in the United States and uses a secondary analysis of Nielsen peoplemeter data to assess the current state of both fragmentation and audience polarization across 62 of the most prominent television networks. Audience fragmentation is more advanced than is generally recognized. Polarization, the tendency of channel audiences to be composed of devotees and nonviewers, is also evident, though modest. Contrary to the "law of double jeopardy," there are now many examples of both small-but-loyal and small-but-disloyal audiences. Loyalty and audience fragmentation affect network profitability and have social consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-382
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Communication
Volume55
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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