Assignment 1: Media Audiences

In this unit we were given the unenviable task of putting ourselves in the shoes of an audience researcher working for a major news organisation and find the target audience of a specific show. That show is Brian Cox’s new show Human Universe. We planned to do this by carrying out quantitative and qualitative research which would help us go from having a brief and wide ranged idea of the type of person who would this type of program and narrow it down so we know who this person is, their gender, their personal interests etc. This is called the “Doreen”.

The term Doreen originated in the radio studios, as radio hosts condensed their idea of the shows target audience and turned it into a single person who they would speak to directly, and the practise has been taken by other broadcasting means including television.

To get a feel for the show before we did this, we watched a few minutes of it as a sample and was asked to write down the things we notice about the show and the qualities somebody who would watch this would possess.

Words like these appeared:

– Sci Fi                        – History                        – Creationism                       – Space Exploration
– Academia                – Non-mainstream      – Genetics                              – Traditions
– Technology             – Evolution                   – Education & Learning      – BBC
– Geography              – Similar Programs     – Anthropology                     – Science
– ‘Nerd Culture’        – Religion                      – Visuals & Photography

From these key words alone, it provided us with a glimpse of what our Doreen could be, which comes across as a science student in his late teens or early twenties.

I thought about similar shows which our Doreen would like and shows about science and space like Doctor Who and The Big Bang Theory came to mind.

This theory is backed up by the related programs which can be seen underneath Human Universe on the BBC iPlayer website:

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 14.11.31

Facebook has advanced into a good source of information thanks to it’s ‘Like’ feature, which people use to let people know which shows, music or books, amongst other things, they like. It is useful for researchers such as ourselves because it not only let’s us know they like the type of show we are producing, it gives us an idea of the other things they like for future reference.

It also provides us with analysis data like this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 19.48.42

Above, you can see the interaction of that page in terms of the amount of people talking about Brian Cox, the total amount of likes and new page likes over the past two weeks. It also gives us the most engaged insights in terms of the City and Age group who have connected to the page the most. In this case it shows London as the most engaged city and 25-34 year olds being the most engaged age group, not too far off my initially thought age group.

A friend of mine on Facebook is shown to like Brian Cox so I thought I’d look at some of his information to see if it backs up and/or adds to my idea of Doreen.

  • He is 21 years old
  • Male
  • Caucasian
  • Lives in Ellesmere Port
  • Studying environmental science at university
  • No specific preference of music – very mixed
  • Likes Big Bang Theory, animated comedies such as Family Guy, Walking Dead, and comedy panel shows such as Mock the Week and 9 out of 10 Cats.
  • Likes National Geographic
  • Reads New Scientist, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

This example has gone to strengthen my idea that the Doreen is in their early 20s, I’ll say around 24, is a student who studies something science related and likes shows like The Big Bang Theory.

The problem with Facebook though is it is quite limited in who’s information you can look at due to privacy settings, and in this case, it seems Phil is the only Brian Cox fan on my friends list.

Twitter is another social media website which can be used to find out who is watching Brian Cox’s shows like Human Universe as you can see tweets from around the world, as well as profiles without the high privacy settings.

I delved into his followers list and picked 18 accounts at random:

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 14.14.42Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 14.16.30
From these chosen accounts I decided to try and work out the Doreen. From the names and/or photos I was able to work out that out the 18, ten of them were male, four of them female, while the remaining four were unreliable. I choose the term them unreliable as they have no photo or no bio, and on Twitter it is not uncommon for celebrities (or amateur football writers for that matter) to have many bots or fake accounts following them. When I went through the followers who I knew also I noticed that the vast majority were male.

I also worked out that from bios and photos used, either as a profile and/or cover photo, that there were five who were either a form of science or medical student, or had a keen interest in science. The others didn’t really specify.

That is the main problem with Twitter, while Facebook is a place for people to show their friends what they are interested in, Twitter is to talk to the world about the same subject – A combination of the two would be perfect for someone doing the same job as me.

However, with the new evidence I have collected, I think that the Doreen is now a 25 year old male, who is or has studied a form of science who lives in London.

Another problem about both social media forms is they are dominated by younger users which could make the overall representation inaccurate.

In fact the show is aired on BBC Two, a channel by admission of it’s commissioning brief is popular with those between the ages of 35-54:

This means that our Doreen will be slightly older than we initially anticipated and I feel will move their age up to at least 31.

On the IMDb website, a database for movies and television shows, you are to see a breakdown of people who have watched and rated whatever it is you are looking. I looked at both Human Universe and Wonders of the Universe in order to get a more conclusive idea of who enjoys Brian Cox’s programs more.

Human Universe ratings by group

Human Universe ratings by group (Source: )

What is most interesting about this is the fact only 2 females have given ratings for this show compared to the 28 males who have rated it, which speaks volumes about it’s fans, further strengthening the argument that Doreen is a male.

As for the age group, it appears those aged between 18-29 enjoy the show the most.

Wonders of the Universe ratings by group

Wonders of the Universe ratings by group (source: )

Once again, the number of ratings coming from male viewers heavily outweighs the number of female ratings, even with an increase of total votes for Wonders of the Universe showing that Brian Cox’s shows on a whole are preferred by males.

In this case, both aged 18-29 and aged 30-44 have an average rating of 8.9 for the show but the total number of votes from the former group is more than the latter. From the evidence on show here I change Doreen’s age to 30.

There is only so much you can get from the internet and statistics about an audience, especially one which is as misrepresented as numbers from social media, with the older generation not as technically savvy as the younger one.

While in Chester we set out to find people to complete our questionnaire, asking people what it was about Brian Cox that appealed to them and got an understanding of who they are. Two of those people were two older people we had seen playing music in front of the city hall earlier that day.

Both of them told us that they watch and like Brian Cox as a presenter, but they would also watch a show like Human Universe even if he didn’t present it, as long as whoever replaced him was “respectable”. Words they used to describe Brian Cox pretty much sums up why so many like him as he is straight forward and expresses complex ideas in language which is easy to understand. Others described him as calming, knowledgeable and easy to listen to.

What is interesting is four out of seven of the people questioned were students, and they all seemed to enjoy his shows as well as other documentaries, such as ones presented by David Attenborough.

It is difficult to pinpoint an age for the Doreen as Brian Cox appeals to a wide range of people, illustrated by the musicians in their 80’s we questioned enjoying his work and the abundance of younger people and students who do too.

Regardless, from the sheer amount I have found I believe the Doreen is a 30 year old male who lives in London and  who is a post graduate who has a keen interest in science and documentaries. Due to his interests I believe he won’t be very religious.


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