MEDIA CHANNEL AND AUDIENCE RETENTION: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF TRADITIONAL MEDIA (RADIO, TELEVISION, MAGAZINE, NEWSPAPER ETC) AND NEW MEDIA (FACEBOOK, 2GO, TWITTER, YAHOO MAIL AND ONLINE NEWS ETC

MEDIA CHANNEL AND AUDIENCE RETENTION: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF TRADITIONAL MEDIA (RADIO, TELEVISION, MAGAZINE, NEWSPAPER ETC) AND NEW MEDIA (FACEBOOK, 2GO, TWITTER, YAHOO MAIL AND ONLINE NEWS ETC

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CHAPTER ONE                                                

INTRODUCTION

1.0       BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The term “Media channel” can generally be seen as tools for the transfer of information, concepts and idea to both general and specific audience. Using mass media can be counterproductive if the channels used are not audience appropriate, or if the message being delivered is too emotional, fear arousing, or controversial. Undesirable side effects usually can be avoided through proper formative research, knowledge of the audience, experience in linking media channels to audiences, and message testing. Marshall McLuhan calls media "the extensions of man." That is, the greatest desire of any communicator using any channel is to make sure the communication has effect on the receiver. With this, the high need of the audience attention is paramount. There are basically eight different mass media: Radio, television, film, books, sound recordings, newspapers, magazines and the internet. Of course, these eight are not the only mass media that exist. Others are billboards, comic books, posters, direct mail, matchbooks and buttons. These eight media listed above have the largest audiences, employ the most people and have the greatest impact. People are also most familiar with these media.

Right from the beginning of the development of media channels and to its transition to the new media, audience maintenance has been the central focus of every audience research by the medium in question. A few years back, one would get into the office and talk about a TV program from last night. You would chat about a talk show host and the latest song or having spotted the Audi or Heineken billboard on a specific highway. Traditional media ruled by relevance, content, circulation and ultimately audience share. However, today, you are more likely to get an update on trending topics on twitter/facebook or ground breaking news via one of these platforms prior to watching the late night news or reading the afternoon print edition of a newspaper or listening to radio news on the hour. It has become easy to recognize these social tools as part of the media marketing mix, from a marketer’s perspectives. But more scary is that new/social media has managed to get free air, as most shows now incorporate, or rather extend, their audience to these media for additional information and in the process, build stronger affiliations with their forms beyond the first media contact point, in this case TV, radio, outdoor or print. More worrying is that even if one does not have DVR, you can easily access any clip of a music video using YouTube and immediately tweet or post your facebook comment and it becomes part of the trend. This has a potential to create an audience shift into new media at the expense of traditional media houses and further strengthen advertiser bargaining power against traditional media house in the future. So, taking this into consideration, traditional media houses need to start asking some questions… To what extent do new/social media have an impact on the long term strategic focus for traditional media houses?

Are traditional media houses playing a role in diminishing their value and creating an audience shift phenomenon? How best can monetized content be produced by traditional media houses in these new platform? Are traditional media houses seeking to find relevance to the extent that they have directly or indirectly become an ally in the process producing content that drives traffic to their future competitors? It is unfortunate that traditional media has failed to find content that their future audience could easily identify with beyond the music shows, metric results and the career sections. While circulation and audience ratings are diminishing for traditional media houses, the opposite in an hourly occurrence for new and social media. Traditional media are cutting costs of content production and staff, and social media has now become a source for traditional media looking for content. One thing remains clear, though, the battle for audience and content is evolving and the odds, unfortunately, are in favour of new media. 

According to a 2011 study from Pew Research Centre for People and the Press, while trust for traditional media outlets has waned over the past two decades, Americans still cite television as their top source of news. Nevertheless, in 2008, the eclipsed newspapers as the number two source, continued to grow at a steady pace. A more recent study from another Pew entity, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, finds that YouTube is playing an increasingly critical role in how all people view (and also contribute to ) news. With persuasive Photo- taking and video recording capabilities due to Smartphone’s and sites to help share them, everyday citizens are becoming journalists. Nevertheless, most people are still turning to traditional news outlets to get the full details of stories. Ultimately, traditional media outlets and new media outlets need each other, but exactly what role each entity plays is still very fluid and will continue to evolve. Nonetheless, one important difference distinguishes the Internet from earlier media: its characterization of the audience. Internet companies such as AOL and Microsoft tend towards a simple and simplistic media-centered view of the audience as market.The research will show, however, that as the Internet assumes more of the traditional mass-media functions, it will be forced to adopt a more sophisticated notion of the mass audience. Indeed, the Internet is currently the site in which audience definitions borrowed from broadcasting are encountering and merging with definitions borrowed from marketing. The Internet apparently lends itself to both models. As a result, definitions of what the Internet does or is, and of how we should understand the audience, are suitably confused and opaque. And the behavior of big Internet players, such as AOL and MSN, perfectly reflects this confusion as they seem to careen between a view of the Internet as the new television and a contrasting view of the Internet as the new shopping mall. Meanwhile, Internet users move in ways that most observers fail to capture.

For example, Baran and Davis characterize mass communication as a process involving (1) an organized sender (2) engaged in the distribution of messages (3) directed toward a large audience. They argue that broadcasting fits this model whereas a mailing list does not because, even though the mailing list may have very many subscribers, its content is filtered through a single person known as the list moderator. But why is the moderator suddenly more determining than a network programmer or magazine editor? The distinction seems to grow out of the Internet's technological characteristics: it is an interactive pipeline; therefore Internet use necessarily excludes the possibility of "broadcasting" which in turn causes us to reject "traditional" notions of the audience. However, if a media organization were to establish an AOL discussion group in order to promote Warner television shows, for example, would not the resulting communication suddenly fall under the definition as set out by Baran and Davis? Therefore, among all the confusion and the struggle which both the traditional media and the new media are engaging themselves to attract audience to their medium and content thereby retaining those, this study tries to see how the media channels have successfully win in retaining a particular group of audience than the other. Everyday, the traditional media are trying to imbibe the new media in their operation while on the other hand; new media is introducing newer social network sites to attract a particular group of people. These will make us to conclude that both media are trying to win more audience. That is the reason they are engaged in this plight.

 1.1      STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

New media today have posed the traditional media (newspaper, television, cable, radio, magazines etc) with challenges of audience sustainability and generation. Some communication scholars have suggested that incision of the new media may be the cause of 19 drastic reduction in readership of the mainstream media and others are in disagreement that it may not be the cause. Worth an estimated USD $300 billion, the largest Internet transaction of all time, the deal is forty-five times larger than the AOL/Netscape merger of November 1998. Additionally, the Time Warner/EMI merger, which followed hard on the heels of the AOL/Time Warner deal and is itself worth USD $28 billion, created the largest content-rights organization in the music industry. The joining of the Internet giant (AOL) with what was already the world's largest media corporation (Time Warner EMI) has inspired some exuberant reactions. A January 2000 InfoWorld column proclaimed:

“The AOL/Time Warner merger signals the demise of traditional media companies and the ascendancy of 'new economy' media companies that will force any industry hesitant to adopt a complete electronic-commerce strategy to rethink and put itself on Internet time. (Saap & Schwartz)”

With recent studies on media channels and audience research like this, one might be thinking of the divergence of audience of a particular media channel to another one that is making the eagerness of the paradigm shift to be paramount to all generic media channels. If you look at it, the way audience these days are drifting from traditional media to new media is becoming much stronger as virtually all the traditional media channels are switching to having both online copy and offline copy while the new media is introducing newer version of social media software’s to carter its teaming audience. In the light of all these, this study therefore seeks to observe the obvious tussle for audience between the old and the new media.

1.2       RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

1.         To know the various type and characteristics of media channels we have.

2.         To examine the dominant users of both traditional media and the new media.

3.         To know the measures the both media engage to retain its audience.

4.         To know the factors that determines audience retention of a medium.

1.4       RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1.         What are the types and characteristics of media channels we have?

2.         Who are the dominant users of both the traditional media and the new media?

3.         What are the factors that determine audience retention of a media channel?

4.         How can the audience retention be sustained over a long period of time?

1.4       RESEARCH JUSTIFICATION

It has been observed that there is a paradigm shift of audience from either the traditional media to the new media or otherwise for viable reasons. Both media system (mainstream and new media) have been in a struggle to get more audiences and retain the existing ones. This is the main reason of convergence of all the media into one and also the introduction of newer software’s basically for social media. This aspect has rally attracted the youth. But also politicians are equally utilizing the opportunity to use it for political purposes. This effect was not very much felt in third world countries like Nigeria, though this present administration is  using the social media too. Studies in this aspect have not much been conducted in our society apparently because the media transition the world is facing now is relatively new to us here.

This study will be able to inform owners of mainstream media on how to remain tireless and strategically for the retention of their audience. It will also inform the media channels we have the kind of audience they have so as to know the things to do to attract other ones too. Similarly, the study will equally inform the owners of new media the kind of audience they have and possibly what to do to attract other categories of the audience. Also, the study will inform the traditional media consumers who are narcotic to the old pattern of communication (hard copy), that they could still use the traditional media online. This informs the audience on the significant of convergence. Also, it will enlighten the audience and media to use for gratifications of a particular desire and by extension will reveal which among the traditional and new media has more audience and the categories which the audience falls. The media operators will use it to know the audience number open to them; to acquire new ones; how to sustain them; and at long run retain them. Lastly, Scholars, students and the general public who are interested in the field apparently advertisers and public relations men will benefit from the outcome of the study. So the study will greatly enrich the body of knowledge.

1.5       SCOPE OF THE STUDY                           

This research work will focus on the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria for it has a high concentration of both adults and youths that belong to intellectual group of the society. It is assumed they can read and write and they equally have access to all the mass media channels we have. That is from the traditional media to the use of new media. The area of coverage is Samaru, Zaria including ABU Community.                           

1.6       LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The basic limitation to this study is lack of recent study conducted within the jurisdiction of the case study that is relevant to the variables of the study apparently because of low level of advancement in technology, so statistical data in respect to the study are seldom available.

1.7       DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS

MEDIA: This comprises all organizations, such as, televisions, radio, Newspaper, magazines, internet e.t.c.  that provide news and other information to the audience. CHANNEL: This is the medium through which news and information is been Passed to the audience or medium of interaction between the sender and receiver of a massage.

 AUDIENCE: These are group of people who are using a particular mass Media channel.

RETENTION: The audience that are permanently using a particular media Channel.

TRADITIONAL MEDIA: This includes all forms of existing traditional media Like television, radio, newspaper etc before digitalization which has led to media convergence.

NEW MEDIA: New media technology is any type of application meant to transfer information via digital techniques, computerized systems or data networks. First established in the 20th century, new media technology is most readily associated with information transfers meant to be manipulated in some way. The most prevalent examples of new 25 media technologies include Internet-based concepts like websites like facebook, online newspapers or digital mediums such as CD-ROMs and DVDs. They are basically medium of interaction.

 COMPARATIVE: This is the study of comparing one channel of communication to another. Basically compares between traditional media and the new media.





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