March 07, 2006
Here's Looking at You
BY Stephen Talbot
The results are in from our first-ever FRONTLINE/World survey, and we thought you might like to hear about yourselves.
* 56 percent of those who responded to our survey are female
* 45 percent are aged 35 to 54; and 29 percent are 25 to 34
* 33 percent live in the Western United States
* 18 percent are educators (the largest single job category)
So, a "typical" FRONTLINE/World viewer would be a 35- to 54-year-old woman living in the West who works as a teacher.
Of course, this is a skewed portrait since it really reflects those who bothered to reply to the survey in our last email newsletter. But as a reflection of our most loyal audience -- those of you who watch our TV episodes regularly, visit our Web site at least once a week, and subscribe to our newsletter -- this is not a bad snapshot.
We believe in transparency at FRONTLINE/World, so here's some more data about yourselves.
* Close to two million households across the United States tune in to our television broadcasts. (Next episode: March 28.)
* Most of our PBS viewers are in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. But our highest ratings are often in Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas. We do well in Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville, Memphis, Houston and on many other "heartland" public television stations.
* More than half a million people visit our Web site every month, and this number is climbing steeply.
* Judging by our email, our Web audience is increasingly international.
Just look at the response to our Dispatch about the Danish cartoons
or to our Rough Cut video, "Calcutta Calling," or the debate about gold mining companies in Peru after we broadcast, "The Curse of Inca Gold."
Why do you watch?
"It's very informative, with a socially concerned tone."
"Truthfulness -- showing me both sides of the argument."
"Unbiased, in-depth, global information."
"World news I can't get anywhere else."
What are your favorite stories?
Our reports on Iraq were Number One, including our recent "Saddam's Road to Hell" coverage.
Many of you said we present a more honest, unflinching account of the
war and what is happening in Iraq.
Some of our more exotic, off-the-beaten-path stories seem to resonate
best: "The Kidnapped Bride" from Kyrgyzstan; "Jewel of the Amazon" about the clash over diamond mining on an Indian reserve in Brazil; North Korea's "Suspicious Minds."
Stories that linger in your memory: our Iceland music story from several years ago, "Hole in the wall" about poor children discovering the Internet, and from our very first episode, the story of cable TV's impact on the isolated kingdom of Bhutan.
Why do you visit our Web site?
"Definitely the archive. Where else could you find videos like that?"
"Can watch it when I am not home on time to see it...Wow, what a treat"
"Video clips -- especially Rough Cuts."
"In-depth coverage -- references and links beyond what is covered on TV."
"Ability for shows' producers/reporters to respond to viewers' comments."
"I also like to read others' reactions [to stories]."
What improvements would you like us to make?
The ability to download FRONTLINE/World videos to personal computers or iPods. (We are exploring the possibilities.) Larger viewing screens on our site. (We are working on that. It's a priority.) More options beyond Real Player. (We recommend QuickTime.)
Most of you are drawn to our Web site by watching FRONTLINE/World on television, or come to us from the PBS and FRONTLINE Web sites. But a growing number of you are referred to us by search engines such as Google and Yahoo! You come looking for a particular story in the news, and when you do we hope you will stay and browse through our rich archive of print and video stories.
College professors and high school teachers, in particular, seem to
appreciate what we have to offer.
"[I watch] to see if there are programs that may fit within the
framework of the international business course that I teach."
"It works great for teaching my geography class. The site provides
statistics and links for more research on the topic at hand."
In our survey, 40 percent said they visited our Web site monthly, 29
percent weekly. We expect the number of weekly and even daily visitors
to increase as the FRONTLINE/World Web site morphs into something that resembles a small international TV station featuring frequent Rough Cut videos and a global magazine with regular Dispatches from our independent network of foreign correspondents.
Look for new TV episodes on March 28 ("Israel After Sharon") and May
9 ("Inside Hamas") -- with a season finale sometime in June.
As always, thanks for watching, reading, and letting us know what you
think about our "stories from a small planet."