Science & Tech

Business professor works to unlock the mysteries of television viewing habits

1 min read

Network brands serve as cues to guide viewer’s choices

Media consultants have spent years studying what convinces viewers to watch certain programs. While there are no purely empirical answers why certain programs are more popular than others, a new study led by a researcher at the Harvard Business School (HBS) provides some strong clues — and a surprising conclusion. “What we found is that in the context of television viewing, a setting where you would expect people to be very informed about the attributes [of particular programs], people are generally uninformed,” says Bharat Anand, assistant professor of business administration at HBS. He and his colleague Ron Shachar from Tel Aviv University were surprised to learn that only a small percentage of viewers actually tune into a particular network knowing what program to expect. Brand loyalty plays a crucial role in the marketplace, and Anand believes television is no different. Like Volvo, The Gap, and Apple, network affiliations such as ABC, Fox, and ESPN serve as familiar brands for viewers.