Audience Fragmentatation is a media
term that describes a trend
in broadcast media consumption habits.
As the cost of broadcasting declines media companies can make increasingly smaller niches profitable. A good example of these are the specialist TV channels that have recently been launched. In the 1980s it would not have been feasable to dedicate an entire channel to just one genre of music because the costs of broadcasting would be too high to make a particulatr niche viable (profitable).
As a result of the falling cost of broadcasting, the media companies are able to launch more channels. If all goes to plan then the new channels steal some of the audience share from existing channels.
Since the total size of the audience for all the channels put together remains aproximately constant, then this audience is being divided amongst a growing number of channels: Therfore in the fullness of time, any channel's audience will allways decline.
This is a big problem for advertisers who find that they must buy a lot more media space in order to reach the same number of people they did in the good old days.
Unless these companies want to grow dependant on media buyers they have to discover other marketing strategies: e.g. Direct Marketing, Product Placement, PR, Tele-Marketing or even Viral Marketing.
This is a big opportunity for media buying agencies who now find their services indespensible. There is money to be made in consultancy for these middle-man companies that make deals between the advertisers and media companies.
This all sounds very harsh for the viewer, because in the short term audience fragmentation could mean more junk TV to waste our time.
However if we take the principle of fragmentation to it's extreme we could get to a future where there is a channel designed for the needs of each viewer. Internet technology could give the viewer a junk free and more relevant viewing experience: What you want to watch, when you want to watch it.