Soap Operas: Re-visiting viewership in a changing broadcasting dispensation
This study rekindles the soap opera audience viewing debate in a digital broadcast environment within the Kenyan television programming context. In a mixed-method approach,415 participants were interviewed on their preferences of 21 regularly scheduled soap operas in 5 leading Free to air TV stations in Kenya, In addition, 57 participants were purposively identified for FGDs. The study employed the uses and gratification framework. The findings are that even with a new broadcast dispensation and a myriad of programming, the selection and viewing of soap operas are still paramount. The viewers select to watch soap operas with storylines and performance they perceive as believable and genuine. The domestic audience is attracted to watch foreign soap operas over the local productions because of their better storytelling skills and characterization. The study recommends scripting workshops for domestic producers and the development of screen acting centers of excellence. There is also a need to tweak the 60% local content quota policy to incorporate creative aspects. Regular promos of the domestic soap operas within the broadcast schedules would also boost their uptake.
Keywords: Soap Opera, Viewers, Selection, Attraction, Digital broadcast