Diana Orr May 21, 2010 COM126 Ron McCullough Uses and Gratifications Theory Applied to Religious Programming The reaction I had to the article “Why do people watch religious TV” was that I was surprised that so many people are now watching religious programming. The reason for this reaction is because you never hear anyone talking about this type of programming. Most of the time people are talking about shows they watch such as reality shows, crime shows, or movies.
It is shocking to hear that social scientists and learned observers see the audience of religious programming as poor, less educated than other viewers of different types of programming. What are they saying about the viewers? Some older viewers of religious programming nay not be able to leave their homes much anymore due to health issues. These older viewers may not be able to attend church the way they did earlier in their lives, so for them watching religious programs becomes their way to worship God.
Some of these viewers may also be listening to see if their values, beliefs, understanding of the bible, or morals are the same as the people they like to watch on these programs. It seems like the diversity in today’s religious programming appeals to more viewers. In the past mostly what was taught and preached was fire-and –brimstone sermons. These types of teachings may have induced fear and to some untruth of God’s word.
If there is someone new to religion listening to fire-and-brimstone sermons their reaction could be such a fear that they may never want to view religious programming again, with this in mind the religious networks seen a need for diversity in their programs. New viewers could also be new to any type of religion and could be looking for information and answers. According to Rubin (1984) ritualized viewers watch television for companionship, time-consumption, and relaxation (Abelman Robert, 1987).
Ritualized viewers could be people who live alone and television takes the place of social interaction in their lives, they may not have a lot of friends or family around to interact with. Ritualized viewers have time on their hands where they have nothing to do and television fills a void in their lives. Relaxation from working hard or just from life in general is another reason that Rubin (1984) calls some viewers ritualized viewers. People look for some type of programming that can be up-lifting to relax with.
Instrumental viewers on the other hand, reflects a more goal-oriented use of television content to gratify informational needs or motives (Abelman Robert, 1987). The instrumental viewers are the people looking for information and answers to their questions. Instrumental viewers could also be new to religion and what to understand God and the bible. These viewers are your information seekers. It does make sense that some of the viewers stated that they watch religious programming because they are dissatisfied with the moral standards depicted on non-religious television.
There is enough crime, violence, and problems in the world without watching even more on shows that are intended to entertain the viewer. People relax more after watching television that is up-lifting to their spirit than they do to crime and violence. Another specific type of programming that you could use for uses and gratifications theory research is game shows. The research would probably show results something like this: 1. The viewer can compare themselves with the contestants. 2.
The viewer can feel up-lifted when they get the answers correct. 3. The viewer can imagine that they won the game. The reasons the viewers may give for watching game shows could be something like this: 1. The excitement the viewer feels. 2. The educational appeal to the viewer. 3. The social interaction the viewer feels to the show and people on the show. Political debate programs are shows that people may watch for a reactionary reason. There are usually three types of people who watch these programs. 1.
Those who want to support their candidate. 2. Those who are undecided. 3. Those who want to be more educated on the issues being debated. Television stations realized that this type of programming is watched by the viewers for reactionary reasons. During the last presidential race when the candidates were debating on television the channels put grafts on the bottom of the screen for the viewers to see. These grafts helped the viewer see how their opinions where the same as other viewers or if they were different.
These grafts also helped the candidates to see the response of the viewers on their answers on different issues. Everyone watches television or listens to the radio for their own reasons, and most any of the shows that people watch could be researched by the uses and gratifications theory to see and understand why people watch what they do and why it appeals to them. References Abelman, Robert (December 1987) Why do people watch religious TV? Uses and gratifications approach. Review of religious research, Vol. 29, No. 2. Cleveland State University.