Video-recording the viewers in their natural habitat

Date of publication: June 15, 1986

Author: Peter Collett


This paper offers a brief review of the research techniques that are available to the media researcher who is interested in discovering what happens in front of the television. It then describes the C-Box, a piece of equipment which produces a video-recording of the viewing area in front of the TV, together with a visual image of the programme on the set, and the channel number, date and time of day. The C-Box has been used to examine the relationship between the amount of TV people claim to watch and the amount of TV they actually watch, and to generate material that is relevant to several areas of interest to media researchers. Two of these areas, namely the ratings and viewers' reactions to commercials, are singled out for special attention. The paper concludes with a summary of the advantages that video-analysis has to offer to our understanding of television viewing.

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