Viewing states of mind determine ratings.
10.11.2005

What people watch on TV at night doesnt depend on the target group they belong to, but on their psychological state.

Television has nothing to do with information or pure entertainment. rheingold studies show that TV is a kind of daily self-therapy which people watch to relieve daily tensions. After a frustrating day at work, for example, which didnt have the desired effect or give one a boost, one tends to watch action or erotic programs on Pro Sieben or Premiere. On the other hand, if one feels one has frittered away ones workday, one watches TV to work through a demanding topic. If one suffers an unfortunate twist of fate, one wants to view a melodrama together with others.

So whether a person wants to watch TV at night and what he or she wishes to watch does not hinge on the target group he or she belongs to, but on what has happened during the day. And of course on the programs offered by the channel. In the ideal case, a channel should air programs that appeal to a dozen different states of mind. If a channel is to be successful it should show programs geared to psychological states that may exist at any given hour.

Research on everyday life gives important clues about what to show when. The early evening state of mind, for example, is ideal for a colorful surge of many little dramatic waves consisting of soap operas, magazine programs, and game shows. Prime-time shows, however, should offer viewers a counterpoint to daily routine: people want to be gripped for two hours by a captivating event or film.

On account of its programming focus, general image, and style, a channel builds up a certain "mind-state competency." For instance, RTL is successful because it has established a new, "more private" mood. It is more casual, more lively, more explosive, and more personal than the stiff, disciplined, didactic public channels.

Thus, to be successful a channel shouldnt be geared to certain target groups, but to certain psychological states. The advantage: more and more viewers from all target groups will increasingly seek the state of mind offered by a given channel.

© 2015 rheingold