We all remember sitting down as a family to watch a movie. Sitting in front of the Carols by Candlelight. Watching a Rerun of God knows what Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.
But do families still do this?
In order to explore this idea this post will look at an article authored by Francis L. F. Lee entitled ‘The influence of family viewing preferences on television consumption in the era of multichannel services’, published in 2010 via the Asian Journal of Communication.
Lee approaches questions of family, perceptions of family, television viewing and the effect this has on content via the lense of a telephone survey. She initiially acknowledges the general perception that a ‘more individualized TV culture within the household’ now exists, and forefronts Multi Channel services as a key influencer in this change. However, by treating family as a variable to compare preferences and consumption, Lee differentiates pay TV and free to air TV in order to reposition family as a central aspect of TV viewing, rather than a subsection of it – arriving at the following two hypotheses and two research questions:
Free to Air TV
Hypothesis 1: Preference for family viewing relates positively to consumption and evaluation of conventional mass television broadcasting.
Hypothesis 2: Perceived family television preference heterogeneity relates negatively to consumption and evaluation of conventional mass television broadcasting.
Research Question 1: How does preference for family viewing relate to consumption and evaluation of multichannel television services?
Research Question 2: How does perceived family television preference heterogeneity relate to consumption and evaluation of multichannel television services?
Here Lee is referring to the contrast in viewing preferences of individuals within a family when using the term ‘television preference heterogeneity’ (Lee, 2010).
In so doing, Lee arrives at a very important notion. Whereby, ‘if it is simply a habit for a family to watch television together and the ‘togetherness’ itself is all the family members are concerned about, they may continue to watch television together regardless of whether the television contents are designed for family viewing’ (Lee, 2010).
Which prompts me to consider this analysis by a case by case approach. But then how can we gain a proper insight into how the viewing culture of families have changed? After all, Lee notes that it is not necessarily possible to differentiate the key motivating factor being that of Pay Tv or Free to Air considering ‘it remains possible for multichannel television to be consumed as a form of family entertainment’ given the above is also true.
Alas, we find ourselves at a cross roads. Undoubtedly, the options a family has to access TV have diversified. But as Lee shows, this does not necessarily signify a complete change of viewing habits. Hence I would like to put forth a couple research questions of my own:
Research Question 1: Has TV influenced our understanding of family through its representation of family and hence altered the way in which we identify accepted or normal practice with regard to family TV consumption?
Research Question 2: Are certain genres more likely to prompt a collective family viewing over others? And hence is the opposite true, with some genres pushing towards a more heterogeneous approach?
Lee, FF 2010, ‘The influence of family viewing preferences on television consumption in the era of multichannel services’, Asian Journal Of Communication, 20, 3, pp. 281-298, Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 16 April 2013.