Media Convergence and Narrowcasting

September 14, 2008

The advent of the internet and convergence of new media has led to the development of infinite possibilities to produce and consume media.  As such, it has given rise to narroly defined subcultures known as niche cultures.  Amazingly, these niches have changed the way media is produced and marketed.  Before, media was offered on a mass scale for the largest, broadest audience possible.  This was because sources of media were few and consumers sought the widest range of information available.  Today’s internet and existing new mediums though have given consumers a wealth of subcultures to be apart of.  So instead of once producing general media for a broad appeal, narrowcasting is emerging as a primary approach to successful media distribution.  (Jenkins, 2-5)


As mentioned before, the rise of the internet and new media has required producers to rethink how to the sell to the masses by focusing on narrow subject matter.  One shining example is that movie studios are bypassing traditional mass print and television ad campaigns in favor or online viral marketing that’s targeted to niche fan bases.  The goal is to generate hype with a film’s base fans and have their word of mouth spread to the rest of the public.  One need not look further than Warner Brothers’ and The Dark Knight to see the effectiveness of such an approach.  The year long marketing campaign was narrowly catered to the film’s die hard fans which created tremendous publicity leading to its release.  The film is currently the second highest grossing picture ever.  Expect plenty of other movies to follow suit.   


As Nicolas Negroponte pointed out in 1990, narrowcasting has ascended while traditional mass media is in decline.  To what extent though will this continue?  How much of one’s life today is associated with niche media as opposed to mass media?  What are the benefits of one or the other?  And will society reach a point where typical mass media is entirely replaced with one’s personal narrowcast of subject matter?


The concept of niche culture has gradually gained attention as it has become a prominent aspect of media.  Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine, has become an icon for identifying and expounding on the shift into narrowcasting.  His book The Long Tail, effectively highlights the development of niche culture and how producers should cater to it.  Here is also a link to a conference he spoke at discussing the changes in today’s media:


YouTube-The Long Tail


2 Responses to “Media Convergence and Narrowcasting”

  1. gdenney said

    I thought that your points were really interesting. I especially liked the point that you made about niche media possibly replacing mass media. I was on Facebook today and happened to notice the ads. You can vote on whether you like the ads in the sidebar. Then, Facebook uses your votes to gear all of the ads that you see towards what it thinks you want to see. It is happening all over the internet. Every time I go onto Amazon, I get a new list of items that I might like based on past purchases.

  2. phonytruth said

    Yeah, I completely agree with you about the rise in niche casting. The fact is that though you can use specific meta data to find content specific to your niche interest you can also in a real sense potential reach a global audience for very cheap. Bandwidth and a computer and microphone is much cheaper then a radio broadcast tower. Democratization of media I think will be a net positive for the world.

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