The uses and gratifications of reality based television
Over the last five years, reality-based television has generated some of the biggest, most talked-about hits for broadcast networks. However, academic researchers have given little attention to the genre, specifically the differences among various formats of reality programming and the appeal of these formats to viewers. To understand the appeal of specific aspects of reality television, a better understanding of reality television viewers, types of reality shows watched and gratifications sought was needed. The objective of this study was to compare differences among reality television formats watched and gratifications sought by regular viewers.Ball State UniversityMuncie, IN 47306An online survey was made available to 15,000 college students at a mid-sized, public university in the Midwestern United States. Six hundred thirty responses were received, but those who were not regular viewers of reality-based television were eliminated. Regular viewers are defined as those who indicate that they watch at least one reality-based program the majority of times that a new episode airs. By eliminating those who are not regular viewers, 327 cases were left for analysis.An analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed significant differences within groups of viewers based on the type of reality show that they indicated was their favorite. A Scheffe's test was employed to determine where these differences were. Significant differences existed between docusoap and reality-talent watchers for parasocial relationship gratifications, and reality lifestyle watchers and those who watched all other formats for self-awareness gratifications. Significant differences also existed for reality game watchers and those who watch reality lifestyle formats and docusoap formats for entertainment gratifications, and docusoap watchers and those who watch reality game formats for boredom gratifications. No significant differences existed relating to downward social comparison, social utility or escape gratifications.