Marketplace: TV Niche News


This lesson printed from:

Posted April 3, 2009

Standard: 9

Grades: 6-8, 9-12

Author: Council for Economic Education Technology Staff

Posted: April 3, 2009


The students listen to an audio file about brand loyalty and changing demographics as each of these factors affects competition in the news market. They identify major concepts presented in the audio file and record supporting details using an interactive flash note-taker.This lesson is appropriate for use with middle school students.




  • Explain how demographics and long-term financial goals affect competition in the news market.


Competition is affected by many things. One important influence on competition is the demographic (description of the consumer) of a particular product or market. In February 2002, the television news market was targeting a new demographic. In today's lesson, students learn why the news market's targeted demographic changed and how this change affectedcompetition between news networks.


[Note to teacher: The following link requires RealPlayer .]


Activity 1:

Have the students go to Marketplace archives to read the transcripts of the interview and listen to the Markeplace audio file 'TV Niche News' (from 22:00 through 26:40).  As they listen they will complete an outline of important information presented in the story. Then, they will use their outlines to answer factual and evaluative questions about economic concepts addressed in the story.

Give the students the following instructions:

Listen to the Marketplace audio file 'TV Niche News.'   Play from 22:00 through 26:40.

While you are listening, use the note taker to record major concepts and supporting details. These are the three main ideas you will focus on today:

  • Why the Under-34 Demographic Avoids Cable or Network News Programs
  • Successful Strategies Cable and Network News Programs Use to Attract the Under-34 Demographic
  • Why Cable and Network News Executives Would Like to Attract the Under-34 Demographic

As you listen to the segment, record any words you don't know or words that may be important economic terms.

Then listen to the audio file again (from 22:00 to 26:40) to gather additional supporting details and possible definitions of the vocabulary words using context clues, and record the details and definitions in your note taker.

Finally, you will be asked a series of questions related to the story.

Activity 2:

The previous activity helps students understand why network news executives are interested in attracting the under-34 demographic and why the under-34 demographic is generally not interested in network news. Have the students create an outline for a network news program that will attract the under-34 demographic, incompetition with the existing programs. The students should consider the following while creating their outlines:

  • What main topics in the news will your program focus on? [Education, college topics, music, movies, politics, etc.]
  • How will you directly involve the under-34 demographic in your program? [By providing interactive programs in which viewers get a say in the stories that are run; by polling of viewers about stories to show varying viewpoints, etc.]
  • In addition to younger newscasters, a faster pace, and topics of interest, what will your program offer that others may not? [Viewer participation, a custom-made news program for the demographic, etc.]
  • What advertisers will you attract with your program? [Advertisers of products for the demographic, products that the demographic will grow into, etc.]
  • Are you interested in maintaining your viewers over time or continuing to add new under-34 viewers? [Viewers that stay over time will help you compete and help you attract advertisers that are interested in brand loyalty; adding new viewers will also keep you stable because the under-34 demographic will always be there.]


Have the students print out their note-taker outlines. Student work should reflect an understanding of how changing demographics in the news markets affects competition.

Have the students hand in their outlines from Activity 2. Student outlines should display an understanding of what news programs will have to do in order to compete for a new demographic.


Conclude the lesson with a brief discussion of the main topics considered. Students should be able to describe why there has been a change in the demographic targeted by cable and network news programs, and how the change has affected competition in the news market.


1. Have the students further explore the concept of competition by completing the following:

Marketplace: Corporate Leapfrog

What's your Angle?