Beneath the veneer of fragmentation: television audience polarization in a multichannel world
This study reviews the history of television audience fragmentation in the United States and uses a secondary analysis of Nielsen peoplemeter data to assess the current state of both fragmentation and audience polarization across 62 of the most prominent television networks. Audience fragmentation is more advanced than is generally recognized. Polarization, the tendency of channel audiences to be com- posed of devotees and nonviewers, is also evident, though modest. Contrary to the “law of double jeopardy,” there are now many examples of both small-but-loyal and small-but-disloyal audiences. Loyalty and audience fragmentation affect network profitability and have social consequences.