This study explores audience polarization through a finer-grained approach by using network analysis of people-meter data. We examine how sociodemographic and structural similarities between viewers contribute to similarities in their television viewing patterns in general and by channel type. This study provides a systematic and comprehensive account of audience behavior by integrating sociodemographics, structural factors, and content types that have rarely been examined in a single integrated model. The findings suggest that structural similarities continue to be important even in the highly selective media environment. Although individuals’ latitudes of choice have increased with the multitude of channel options, choices are not scattered over hundreds of channels based on sociodemographic attributes. Certain channels are viewed almost solely by individuals in a specific demographic category; however, many other channels have viewers across gender, age, and occupational categories. De facto polarization due to the number of channels included in viewers’ subscriptions leads to actual polarization only for entertainment content. The findings relate to a broader thesis on the flow of individuals’ attention to certain types of content and the long-term concerns about the creation of cocoons of self-selected content. This study demonstrates how network analysis can contribute to examining audience behavior.
Quality & Quantity – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 8, 2016
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