Why has the TV we watch become so niche?

Will Nsieyanji takes a look into why TV shows are becoming more niche

William Nsieyanji
5th November 2019
Some TV shows appeal to such a mass audience that they bring families and communities together.

Take sitcoms like Friends, Seinfeld and The Simpsons for example, most people who consumed television during their times of relevance at some point watched at least an episode of these shows. Friends is actually the most streamed TV show in the U.K. and second most streamed in the U.S. And certain content brings all available eyes to the TV such as the news, major sporting events and Love Island. This sort of content has a very general viewership and assumptions cannot really be made about them.

Some TV shows fall into more niche categories, for a more specific viewership. We can make vague assumptions about the type of individuals who watch these shows as there is usually a specific theme which attracts them to the show. For instance; we can assume that viewers of Top Gear (a show about cars) are car enthusiasts or that people who watch conspiracy theory documentaries probably don’t trust traditional media. Despite not reaching levels of popularity which more general shows reach, there are benefits to producing especially catered content.

Top Gear a show designed for car enthusiasts, this show has more influence over people’s car-related expenses than Friends

Niche TV shows are likely to grow a loyal audience who truly love the content, rather than a huge sum of people watching the content simply because their friends and co-workers do. They are also more valuable to advertisers. Although a show like Friends which consistently brought millions of viewers every season would be very influential due to its numbers, a more niche show connects businesses with their target consumers. Let's take for example Top Gear a show designed for car enthusiasts, this show has more influence over people’s car-related expenses than Friends (despite being less popular). Fortunately, Top Gear is funded by the BBC so no companies can infiltrate their content, but in a world where Top Gear needed sponsors car manufacturers would be paying top dollar to be endorsed by Chris Harris and the gang.

For these reasons I believe the content we consume will become nicher and nicher.

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