INFLUENCE OF TELEVISION PROGRAMMES ON AUDIENCE PREFERENCE OF THE STATIONS IN NIGERIA

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INFLUENCE OF TELEVISION PROGRAMMES ON AUDIENCE PREFERENCE OF THE STATIONS IN NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

The study ‘influence of television programmes on audience preference of the stations in Nigeria’ is set out to analyse programmes from television stations in Nigeria in order to determine which of the television stations is preferred by audiences among the most viewed and competitive stations in Nigeria and the strategies that influence this preference. The study is anchored on Uses and Gratification and consumer behaviour theories. Survey and content analysis were employed to determine audience preference of television programmes, television stations and possibly the strategies that influence these preferences. Using census, random, purposive and stratified sampling techniques, the study analysed 328 programmes and surveyed 385 audiences. To analyse the data from the study, textual interpretation for the content analysis and descriptive statistical and percentages for the survey were employed.  The study found out that; the television audiences in Nigeria prefer information/news programmes above every other category of programmes and the audiences most preferred television station in Nigeria is Channels TV, followed by Nigerian Television Authority(NTA) and then African Independent Television(AIT) due to the television stations’ programmes and a number of programme strategies. The study recommends that television stations in Nigeria should use the influential programme strategies realised from this work to increase audience patronage of their television stations. The television stations in Nigeria should involve the audience in the production of programmes and constantly carry out audience research to check on the television station’s programming in order to add or remove items on the schedule. And finally, ‘Infoducation’ (combination of information and educational programmes) as a programme category should dominate peak time in Nigeria instead of infotainment (information and entertainment) and edutainment (education and entertainment).
 

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Programmes are essential elements of television broadcasting. Programmes are largely responsible for a television station’s rating and revenue. Eastman, Ferguson, & Klein, (2013) indicate that programmes help stations to stay afloat in the midst of stiff competition. In the same light, Pongiannan (2012)assert that programming when poorly handled leads to a loss of audience. Eastmanet al., (2013) submit that the simultaneous loss in revenue generation can be the death of a television station.
In television stations globally, the department responsible for arranging programmes ‘is the place where power lies’ (Ihlebaek, Syvertsen, &Ytreberg, 2014). This is premised on Pringle & Starr, (2006) submission that of all the factors that determine the financial success of a radio or television station, none is more important than programming. Programmes are therefore, key in the management of a television station as they are capable of changing the fortunes of the stations.
Although how and what kind of programmes a station produces or presents is determined by four influencers: audience, advertiser, regulator and the broadcaster (Pringle & Starr, 2006), the audience is key among these factors. Pringle & Starr, (2006,) establish that success in television programming rests heavily on the ‘ability to produce or buy programmes with audience appeal, air them at times when they can be seen by the audience to which they appeal, and build individual programmes into a schedule that encourages viewers to tune to the station and remain with it from one programme to another’. Thus, Eastman & Ferguson, (2012) summits that, only successful programming win large audience to television.
Television programmes  are  produced  by programme  producers  and television  station managers  to  satisfy audience  which  is  the  core  objective  of every television station.  The
 
deregulation and digitalisation of television stations in Nigeria has given birth to so many private and public owned television stations whose challenge is to capture a big share of the viewing audience (Ugande, 2013; Asekun-Olarinmoye, Uwom, Chioma, & Olatunbosun, 2014). Nigerians are now exposed to numerous public and private television stations including Channels TV, Africa Independent Television (AIT), Nigerian Television Authority(NTA), Galaxy TV, Silver Bird TV, to mention but a few (Akinwalere, 2013; Chioma, 2014). Alhassan & Kwakwa, (2013) recognizes that the implication of growth in the number of television stations is tight competition among the stations for viewership.
According to Udende, Abdulraheem & Oyewo (2014), the competition  among television stations is higher when the television stations have similar programming objectives and television scheduling strategies. For instance, AIT, Channels TV and NTA have similar programmes during the same time of the day, especially at peak time. Obono & Madu, (2014) asserts that the deregulation of television in Nigeria has opened floor for competitive content, stations offering the same kind of programme at same time with similar strategies making tougher for audience to choose among the available. This has given rise to competition amongst the television stations as each station desire to earn higher audience rating. Most television stations provide news programmes in the morning, entertainment and news in the evening. Eastmanet al., (2013) submits that Audience has been the king whom all the television stations want to serve and the only way to achieve this objective is through effective programming.
The aspects for which television stations compete according to Eastman et al., (2013) are: which station will get the highest audience ratings, at what time (day part) and what kind of audience (demographic) in terms of (age, sex, income, educational qualification, profession, religion). Each television station wants to have the highest number of audience during  peak  hours and  the  right  demographics  to  attract  and  capture  advertisers. Hence, competitive planning to Ihlebaek et al., (2014) becomes visible in a number of aggressive scheduling and programming strategies to create audience flow.
Therefore, the television audience is divided among the competitive television stations. This to a large extent favours television stations with programmes and television strategies that appeal to the audience. For that Nigerian television stations are faced with the challenge of understanding these strategies for which influence audience preference to stations and reflecting such strategies in their programming. More so, Onyekosor & Nwankpa (2014) have established that television audience are emotionally, psychologically, culturally and intellectually different. These differences affect the preference they give to one television programme against another, and their preference determines the extent of exposure they give to a television station.
Several studies have shown that quality programming is the basic strategy that  motivates audience to watch television stations (Zureikat, 1999; Okoye, 2004; Rahman, 1998; Nwabueze, 2010). Television stations therefore, are always coming up with more creative programmes to effectively compete with other stations for audience. Apart from quality programmes, Nwabueze, Nweke, Okowa-Nwaebi and Ebeze (2012) say, there are other television programme factors like time, presenters, demographics and positive values that  also motivate audience exposure and preference, they emphasize on high programming and not just quality programmes. Udende et al., (2014) establish that where there are similar programmes and scheduling times, the audience relay on the television strategies to choose a station over others. And for the fact that audience ratings are more or less the blood line of television stations, ‘To enjoy high ratings or viewership and audience-flow literarily means money from advertisers’ (Adesemoyo, & Idowu, 2015). In fact, the primary purpose of programming in the broadcast media is to attract and hold the audience to the medium ortelevision  stations  (Pringle  &  Starr,  2013:  Eastman  et  al.,  2013)  but  whether  television stations in Nigeria recognise audience preferences and apply the right television strategies that influence audience when scheduling programmes is not very clear.
The preferences of audience according to Lee & Lewis, (2012) have  been insignificant to the news process, journalists (media producers) are now becoming more aware of and adaptive to consumer tastes. Although, Lee & Lewis, (2012) specifically states that journalists rationalize and reduce the audience to a quantifiable aggregate. This in no  way give details of what the audience may prefer and why they prefer one programme or a television station to another. Lee and Lewis’ (2012) argument suggest that although it  is  good that media producers are starting to appreciate the consumer taste (audience preferences/choices), it is not enough to just count how many audiences watch a programme but to establish ‘the why’. In this regard, Tandoc, (2014); Hong, (2013); Less& Lewis, (2012) emphasize that television stations need to understand that audience have preferences and to know what the preferences are is important in order to serve them better.

        Statement of the Problem

 
Media research in Nigeria has concentrated on the effect of television on audience behaviour (Adesemoye & Idowu, 2015;Obono & Madu, 2010; Onabajo, 2007), effect of television advertising on children and learning (Allan, 2008; Chioma, 2014;) the role of television during elections (Rodney, 2004; Usaini, 2017), among others. Only few have given attention to audience choice of television and audience ratings (Udende et al., 2014). Although GeoPoll (2015) has establish that AIT, Channels TV and NTA are the most viewed television stations in Nigeria and Udende et al., (2014) say they have similar news programmes in the morning and evening hours. The methodology does not establish the actual reasons for audience decision to prefer one or some television stations over others; more importantly is what influences the audience preference when the television stations
have the same or similar programmes? There exists a gap then on what programmes and
 
programmes scheduling strategies do to the choices of audience amidst a plethora of television stations with similar programmes.
Audience is important and crucial in the process of programming although producers and programmers used to recognize audience only after the production when it was time to watch the programmes. This notion is no longer valid as audiences are not only active users who choose programmes according to their preferences, but king of programming that should be served (Tandoc, 2014; Hong, 2013; Less & Lewis, 2012). Audience know exactly what they want and this ‘want’ has to be met by television stations or producers. Although it becomes tougher when many television stations meet audience needs using similar programming strategies.
Several television stations in Nigeria occupy the airspace with the objective of meeting audience needs and preferences through programmes as observe by Obono&Madu, (2010). As a result, the television stations are competing for the same audience especially in the morning and evening when a lot of audience are available to watch television. In the morning between 6am and 9am, Nigerian audience have magazine programmes that focuses on Nigerian affairs from three television stations and in the evening between 7pm and 10pm Nigerian audience have three ‘news hour’ programmes to choose from. Which of these programmes do Nigerian audience watch more and which of these television stations is most preferred by Nigerian audience? What then influences audience preferences of one programme or television station over others?
There are several television stations in Nigeria and this has made it difficult to know what they offer for Nigerian audience. Studies like Adesmoye & Idowu, (2015); Obono & Madu, (2010); Onabajo, (2007); Chioma, (2014) & Usaini, (2017) have analysed the role of various categories of programmes in Nigeria without being able to state which the audience
prefer the most. Eastman et al., 2013 state that the television stations or programming that
 
recognizes audience preferences and employs the right scheduling strategies will influence audience preference. Therefore, how do the television programmes influence audience preferences of television stations in Nigeria? This research seeks to establish which television station is most preferred by the audience and what influences audience preferences the most.

        Objectives of the Study

 
The general objective of this study is to investigate how television programmes influence the audience preferences of television stations in Nigeria. Specifically, it seeks:
 

  1. To determine the prominent programmes aired by television stations in

 

  1. To ascertain which programmes are most preferred by the audience in

 

  1. To find out the audience most preferred television station in

 

  1. To ascertain whether audience attributes influence audience preference of television stations and programmes in
  2. To determine the influence of television programmes on audience preferences of television stations in

        Research Questions

 
The following research questions have been developed to guide the study:
 

  1. What are the prominent programmes aired by television stations in Nigeria?

 

  1. Which of these television programmes are most preferred by the audience in Nigeria?

 

  1. Which of the television stations in Nigeria do audience most prefer?

 

  1. Do the audience attributes influence their preference of television station and programmes?
  2. What is the influence of television programmes on audience preferences of television stations in Nigeria?

 

        Hypothesis

 
This hypothesis was formulated to test the relationship between television programmes and audience preference of stations in Nigeria.
 
𝐻01There is no significant relationship between television programmes and audience preference of stations in Nigeria.

        Significance of the Study

 
The knowledge of the influence of programmes on audience preference of television stations is significant in numerous ways. Programmes are paramount to any television station because they influence or lure audience to a television station. There are several programmes formats, content and categories and other programmes factors (strategies) like scheduling time, the television channel access (signal), picture/sound quality and many more that influences audience to prefer one television station another. This study is significant because it is a contribution to the understanding of how different programme factors (strategies) influences audience preference.
Audience preference for programmes do not only depend on the information the programmes portrays but audience environment. Audience environment has much to do with the audience personality (demographics) which include age, sex, occupation and religion also influences their choice or preferences. Studies like this are significant because it provides an elaborate understanding of audience environmental strategies and how these influences the audience preferences of programmes and one television station to another in Nigeria.
Studies like this are also significant because the knowledge of the influence of programmes on audience preference of television stations is useful for understanding and identifying the programmes and television stations that broadcast them in Nigeria including
 
those that are more prominent and why. This study has established audience most preferred programme in Nigeria and this can enable better and successful programming.
The study has also provided knowledge about audience most preferred television station in Nigeria. The factors of programmes and audience environment that influence audience the most provided by this study will enable television stations to focus on such factors or strategies to attract more audience to their television stations as this means more revenue for the stations. The study is very useful to programmers for successful programming and advertisers who are interested in advertising on these television stations.

        Scope of the study

 
This study is about television programmes; how audience are influenced by programmes to prefer or become fans of certain television station. The study is concerned with audience and their power to choose, audience activity in the mist of media content. How audience are able to choose among similar programmes with same objective which leads to television station preference remain a misery. This study is anchored on Uses and Gratification and Consumer behaviour theories. The work employed survey to establish audience preference of television stations in Nigeria. Also content analysis use employed to review popular television stations in Nigeria between January and March, 2018 at Early Morning and Prime Time. The scope of the study is concerned only with morning and evening day parts when viewership is higher and television stations compete for audience. Despite the disparity for ownership (public and private)of the television stations three national television stations were considered. These are NTA, Channels TV, and AIT television stations.
The study is not concerned with ownership pattern of the television stations nor the
several channels each television station operates. The study is not comparing entertainment, information  and  education  programmes  but  concerned  with  all  programmes  aired  in the
 
morning and evening irrespective of category. Although the study wants to know if programme content influences audience preference of a programme and television station, the study is not looking out for which content is more news worthy.
Geographically, television audience from one state in each of the six geo-political regions of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were used. They are Nassarawa – North-Central; Taraba – North-East; Kano – North-West; Lagos – South-West, Akwa-Ibom – South-South and Enugu – South-East and Abuja – Federal Capital Territory (FCT). FCT though also North-Central is chosen because it is the urban city in the country and hosts all  the big network stations. While all the other six states represent the six geo-political regions in the country.

        Limitation of the Study

 
The limitation to this work arises from the choice of television stations. The three television stations selected for this study include; AIT a private television station with one channel, Channels TV also a private television station with one channel and NTA a public television station with several channels and substations. These stations were considered because they are the biggest and network television stations in Nigeria who have similar programmes and compete for same audience as revealed by GeoPoll (2015) and Udende et al., (2014)).
Another limitation is television stations bias to a particular category of programmes, AIT is entertainment bias, Channels TV is news bias and NTA offers variety of programmes. To overcome this limitation, only programmes at peak time (Early Morning and Prime Time) when all the television stations air similar programmes were used for the study. The focus of the study is on programmes broadcast during peak times only as programmes at these times are similar to all the understudy television stations.
 
Finally, Channels TV 10pm news hour was not used for the study while the television stations’ News Hours were used. Each of the chosen television station have News hour in the evening or night; AIT 8-9pm, Channels TV 10-11pm and NTA 9-10pm. To overcome this, Channels TV 7pm News Extracts is used for the study because the programme is within the specified time of the study and the study considered all category of programmes.

        Operational Definition of Terms

 
Audience: Audiences whether listeners, viewers, game players or readers, are group of persons who engage in a piece of art or literature and show or presentation. Rosen (2006) describing audience as related to media, say it is a group of spectators at a public event. Hasan(2013), note that sociologists define audience as ‘conventionalized crowd’ who assemble together. However, this collectiveness is not collected together at the same time or even same place but collectively, as in attendance because audience are attending  components of different mediums.
In the context of this work, the audience refers to individuals or groups of people who view/watch television programmes on different television stations in Nigeria particularly those that watch AIT, Channels TV and NTA.
Audience Preferences: Audience preference can be seen as a viewer’s given liking of one or more specific programme among a set of programmes or liking of one television station over others. It means, the audience are neither as a group of people appropriating media as recipients, nor being appropriated by media industries as commodities. But rather as active participants in a digital network of communication, collaborating in the creation and diffusion of information (Schmidt & Loosen, 2012). When an individual like one of the substitutes more than the other he has developed preference for such a television station.
 
In the context of this work, audience preference is the choice by the audience to watch a programme of their choice among the many available programmes and watch a television station of their choice among the available stations in Nigeria.
Broadcasting: Broadcasting has been defined as the transmission of information through radio waves from a radio or television station to the audience in far and near places, through their receivers which help in decoding such information. Chioma, (2014) posit it as the distribution of audio and video contents to a dispersed audience and McQuail (2010) states, it is the dissemination of information to a large heterogeneous audience who receive the information simultaneously. Similarly, Hasan (2013) elaborate that broadcasting is the dissemination of information by an organisation (radio or television) to a large widely dispersed heterogeneous audience through their radio or television receiver.
Broadcasting as used here refers to the process of television stations encoding messages for her audience and the audience decoding same messages via receivers to watch on the television.
Television: A system for converting visual images with sound into electrical signals, transmitting them by radio or other means, and displaying them electronically on a screen. It also refers to an audio-visual medium which blends pictures with sound to produce a communication experience exhibited on the screen (Owauamalam, 2007). Television or TV is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome (black- and-white), or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound. It can refer to a television set, a television programme (“TV show”), or the medium of television transmission.
In this context, it refers to a mass medium which transmits audio-visual signals which are accessed by viewers through an electronic screen.
Programme: This refers to a carefully prepared and packaged  media message which is aired
 
on a radio or television station within a specific period of time (Akpede, 2010). A television
 
programme is a segment of content intended for broadcast on over-the-air, cable television, or Internet television or any other commercial, trailer, or any other segment of content serving  as attraction for viewership. A television programme can just be something that people watch on television; it can be a series of fictional programmes with the same title and characters.
In this context, a programme is performance designed for a particular target audience, slated for a particular time on television by a television station.
Programming: Programming is an outcome of a process that involves grouping programmes or the act of choosing and scheduling programmes on television. In other words, programming is the arrangement of programme element from hour to hour and within the same hour or hour to hour display of new videos and sequence of a television channel. The approach here involves first searching out and acquiring programme materials, fitting them in a coherent service for a predetermined target audience or market and evaluating their degree of success or failure (Akingbulu & Ojebode 2010, Ugande, 2013 and Pringle & Starr 2013).
Programming as used here refers to the arrangement of programmes, programme type and format, time of schedule, the presenter, TV station accessibility during Early Morning (6am to 9am) and Prime Time hours (8pm to 11pm) and the strategies used to schedule programmes for the purpose of competition with other television stations. The competition here is for the highest audience ratings which programme type, programme quality, programme coverage, station’s reach to mention but a few, determine audience preference.
Day parts: A day part is a span of time during the day. In television programming, day parting is the practice of dividing the viewing day into several parts in which a different type of radio or television programme appropriate for that time period is aired. The assignment of hours of the 24-hour day into day parts generally reflects the presumed lifestyles and viewing patterns of a typical household (Eastman et al., 2013).
 
For the purpose of this research, day part will be adopted from the original meaning which is the division of a day into several day parts for viewing television programmes. The generally accepted major day parts and their time periods are; Early Morning: 6 to 9am, Daytime: 9 am to 4pm., Early fringe and Prime access: 4 pm. to 7 pm, Prime Time: 7 pm to 10 pm, and Late night and Overnight: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. In this work, two day parts are considered: Early Morning and Prime Time. Prime Time is also known as Peak Time. Peak time as used in this work represent the time when viewership of television is at its highest. This typically mean Early Morning and Prime Time are the television most viewed day parts in Nigeria. Peak time and prime time will be used interchangeably but they mean the same time.
Strategy: is a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim. Strategy is a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. In the sense of the art of the general, strategy included several subsets of skills including tactics, siege craft and logistics. Strategy according to Simandan, (2018)is important because the resources available to achieve these goals are usually limited. Strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions. A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (resources). Strategy can be intended or can emerge as a pattern of activity as the organization adapts to its environment or competes (Terra & Passador, 2016).
Strategy in this context is the enabling factors that motivate audience to watch or prefer a programme on television station. Those enticing attributes of a programme that capture the audience interest and encourage them to forgo the other television station for the one with better strategies.
Influence:  the  capacity to  have  an effect  on the  character,  development,  or  behaviour of
 
someone or something, or the effect  itself.  In another way,  influence is  to cause someone to
 
change a behavior, belief, or opinion, or to cause something to be changed. The power, control, authority and direction to make other people agree with your opinions or do what you want(Collins, 2018).
In the context of this work, influence is the ability or effect of television programmes on audience that is able to change the opinion and believe of the audience about television programmes and their stations.

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