Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Non-Traditional TV Viewership

Posted by Drake Kizer on February 27, 2017

Today’s selection covered pages 113-132 in our Spreadable Media textbook. The reading kicked off chapter three, which is titled “The Value of Media Engagement”, in a very interesting fashion. In classic form for this textbook, the beginning of this chapter was interesting, but it also opened up a lot of doors for confusion as the chapter goes on and becomes more convoluted in its subject matter. Hopefully, that will not be the case this chapter, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Pages 113-114 opened up a discussion about television viewing habits that is very relevant, and also a lot like one we have already had in class this semester. The textbook mentions that some shows “[attract] as many or more illegal downloads as television viewers, at least as counted by Nielsen.” That is not surprising to me in the least, because it is easier now than ever before to watch shows without having a subscription to a cable company or a streaming service. Shows are widely available online, and the more popular the show is, the more likely people are to be able to watch it “illegally”.

As the book mentioned, pirates are not stealing content since they can watch the content for no cost when it comes on television. They are, however, manipulating the system and taking advantage of advertisers, who lose money on their investments when viewers do not watch the commercials they paid money to purchase time for. Content producers, like “The Middleman’s Javier Grillo-Marxuach”, view illegal streams differently than networks do. Grillo-Marxuach was quoted as saying that the “more people talk about the show, the more other people will end up buying the DVD…and the money will come back to [the show’s producers].” Content creators are beginning to realize that viewers watching first-run television is not an accurate measure of their show’s overall popularity, but networks have not yet come to that realization. Networks have continually failed to quantify the value of non-traditional viewers, and until they do, tensions will continue to persist.


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