AS Media Studies
• Why is the audience important?
• Each media text is produced with an
audience in mind.
• The audience is the receiver of the text
and interprets the message that’s
• Without the audience, there is no
McDonalds want you to think....
You may agree
You may disagree
You may think that big macs do taste good,
but I’ll only have them every now and again
So here we have three separate readings of
that one advert
In 1980 David Morley did a study
of audience responses when
watching the BBC TV show
Spotlight. As a result of his
research, he decided that
audiences tend to fall into three
groups based on their
interpretation of the text.....
reading is the
audiences will take
from the text.
Audience members from
outside the target audience
may reject the preferred
receiving their own
Negotiated reading is when
audiences acknowledge the
preferred reading, but
modify it to
suit their own values and
What is the
• We use different media at different times
of the day.
• To what extent does the media organise
your daily routine?
• Do you plan any activities around
particular media output?
Look at the
• Market research is a vital part of the process
concerned with discovering audience thoughts,
needs, feelings and aspirations.
• This gives them a detailed picture of what texts
will appeal to different audiences.
• Then a text can be created/packaged in a way
that will deliver it to the audience successfully.
• Research includes questionnaires, interviews
and focus groups.
• Quantitative data about audiences are broken
down by institutions into demographics.
• This includes age, social class, address and
Definitions of socio-economic groups
• AB – professional, business and white collar
• C1 – higher skilled manual
• C2 – lower skilled manual How might you be
pigeonholed as a
• DE – semi and unskilled manual media consumer
• A system for measuring consumers’ beliefs,
opinions and interests.
• Instead of counting age/gender/race it focuses
on opinions on issues, religious beliefs, musical
tastes, personality characteristics etc.
• These are also called IAO variables (Interests,
Attitudes and Opinions)
• Research into audiences usually combines both
demographics and psychographics.
Youth Facts case study
• Page 62
Advertising companies claim they can segment audiences on
the basis of ‘socio-economic values’ such as:
• Survivors Those who want security and like routine
• Social Climbers Those who have a strong materialistic drive and
like status symbols
• Care Givers Those who believe in ‘caring and sharing’
• Explorers Those for whom personal growth and
influencing social change are important
These socio-economic groups are based on the work of the American
Maslow and his idea of a
‘Hierarchy of Needs’ (1954)
• layers of needs
• satisfy one before moving on to the next
• we all start at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy
• Maslow argues that many people stop at particular levels and never
reach the top – self-actualisation
• the unsatisfied needs are what motivate our behaviour
• Maslow stated that the hierarchy was dynamic and reversible; the
needs are not necessarily present in the same order in everyone
• the audience is ‘active’ rather than ‘passive’
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1954)
The need to succeed, to
become what you wish
Self esteem, status,
admiration of others
The need to
belong to a
do you think are
being fulfilled in
Hypodermic Needle Theory
The Hypodermic Needle theory suggests that
the media ‘inject’ ideas into a passive audience,
like giving a patient a drug.
• Earliest academic studies of media audiences
appeared in the 1920s and 1930s
• The audience was seen as a ‘mass’ audience all
consuming the same product and receiving the
same ‘mass’ message
• View reinforced by Orson Welles’s The War of
the Worlds’ broadcast on American radio in
• Are we too sophisticated today? Ghostwatch –
• Advertisers took the ‘hard sell’ approach –
repeating the message often and loudly
Uses and Gratifications Theory
Research then led to a view that audiences weren’t passive and a ‘mass’
but were composed of different social groups.
The audience was now being seen as playing an active role in the
interpretation of the media of particular media texts.
Audience now considered to be active instead of passive
The audience has a set of needs (Blumler and Katz 1975)
•Integration & Social Interaction
• We want to find out about society and the
2) INTEGRATION & SOCIAL INTERACTION
• Companionship through identification with
• We want to find out more about the
circumstances of other people so we can
empathise/sympathise with the lives of others.
• Sociability through discussion about television
with other people.
3) PERSONAL IDENTITY
• Finding reinforcement for personal values.
• Identifying with a valued other in the
• Gaining insight into one’s self.
• We use the media for enjoyment,
relaxation or just to fill time.
• Audiences are often given the opportunity
to interact with media texts.
• Voting on a reality TV show
• Emailing an opinion
• Writing a letter to a local paper
• Taking part in a radio phone in
• Requesting a song
• Participating on makeover programmes
Key Questions to ask...
• To whom is the text addressed? What is the target audience?
• What assumptions about the audience’s characteristics are implicit
within the text?
• What assumptions about the audience are implicit in the text’s
scheduling or positioning?
• In what conditions is the audience likely to receive the text? Does
this impact upon the formal characteristics of the text?
• What do you know or can you assume about the likely size and
constituency of the audience?
• What are the probable and possible audience readings of the text?
• How do you, as an audience member, read and evaluate the text?
To what extent is your reading and evaluation influenced by your
• Uses and Gratifications Theory
• Hypodermic Needle Theory
• Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
• Niche Audience
• Demographics Read pages
• Psychographics 268 – 283.
Add to your
Working as a group…
Imagine that you have been asked by a film company to
provide the outline for a new film aimed at audiences
between 18 and 25. Draw up an outline that includes:
• The main situation/narrative of story and its dramatic
• Descriptions of the main characters
• Ideas for 2 or 3 settings, explaining their visual impact,
the reasons for using them and any technical difficulties
that they may present.
• The opening sequence of the film, explaining how it will
attract the audience’s attention.
• Explain the ways in which the film will appeal to its target
• Suggest ways in which the film could be marketed.