audiences watch stuff.  To understand what audience want to watch it is important that producers can recognise how audiences are composed and how to identify them. a producer would define a audience based on a variety of variables. although it is easy to define a audience it is often subjective and can often change.

the most common variables used to define audiences are

  • gender
  • age
  • beliefs
  • race
  • social class
  • hobbies

the social class refers to the nrs system, the is a demographic classification originally used by the nation readership survey. this puts individuals in specific classes based on the occupation of the head of the household. the classes are:

A upper middle class Higher managerial, administrative or professional
B middle class Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional
C1 lower middle class Supervisory or clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional
C2 skilled working class Skilled manual workers
D working class Semi and unskilled manual workers
E Those at the lowest levels of subsistence Casual or lowest grade workers, pensioners and others who depend on the welfare state for their income

only 2% of the UK population is classed as ‘upper class’. this system is often used as part of market research by a lot of large companies and producers when trying to work out there target audience.

the hypodermic needle theory suggests that an audiences can be controlled and influenced by a messaged being ‘injected’ into through the use of media.

quote from wikipedia:

‘It suggests that the media injects its messages straight into the passive audience (Croteau, Hoynes 1997). This passive audience is immediately affected by these messages. The public essentially cannot escape from the media’s influence, and is therefore considered a “sitting duck” (Croteau, Hoynes 1997). Both models suggest that the public is vulnerable to the messages shot at them because of the limited communication tools and the studies of the media’s effects on the masses at the time (Davis, Baron 1981).’

this theory has now been disproved (wikipedia):

the research movement, led by Paul Lazarsfeld and Herta Herzog, that would disprove the magic bullet or hypodermic needle theory, as Hadley Cantril managed to show that reactions to the broadcast were, in fact, diverse, and were largely determined by situational and attitudinal attributes of the listeners.

this proves that an audience can not be accurately categorised as reactions are subjective and can therefore only be generally categorised.

once a producer has defined an audience it must decide what its target audience is to the product they are presenting. this will be determined by looking at the product and deciding what type of audience would enjoy the product the most. i will be using toy story 3 as an example. the obvious target audience for this film would be children with the age range from 2 – 12, however the audience is subjective as the toy story franchise played an important role in the childhood of many people, so people between the age 16 – 21 would also be interested to see what disney had done with the franchise that had them repeatedly watching the films in there childhood.