Communication has been one of the inmost needs of the human race throughout the documented history. Communications cortege evolved through sign language, folk tales/drama, smoke signal, telephone, telegraph, broadcasting, narrowcasting to mass-communication, etc. Communication technology has matured and as time goes on, it tends to concern itself more and more with the interior meanings of its narrative, with problems of human personality, human relationships, and human requirements. The requirements of human beings vary from region to region, society to society, and are different for different strata of society. For example, contents on agriculture may be crucial for a certain group of people, but it may not be important to a group of other people, who may be more interested in content on culture or education. Contrary to the accepted narrative about broadcasting, the narrowcasting has become more and more relevant to content creators, distributors, advertisers, and audiences as well.
What is narrowcasting?
Narrowcasting is directed to a particular audience via terrestrial TV in a limited geographical area or encrypted content via satellite/cable TV or OTT and internet content received using certain apps, etc. Thus, narrowcast means to aim a broadcast at a narrowly defined area or audience. Though it has become more popular as entertainment, but it has become more specialized. The narrowcasting may be in linear mode or interactive mode. Narrowcasting may also be applied to podcasting as the audience for a podcast is often specific and sharply defined. The podcast is a series of digital media files, in audio/video form, which may be released episodically and generally downloaded by particular viewer/listener through web syndication.
Evolution of narrowcasting
The original broadcast model of media content production to mass audiences was a rational response to early mass media systems with economic and physical resource scarcity. Under such constraints, the best way to attract the largest portion of the audience share was to produce the programming with the broadest appeal and transmit to all masses. But a significant effect of the explosion of channels, made available by digital networked communication technologies in the waning decades of the twentieth century, has been to diffuse the audience for any particular media product.
Doordarshan model of narrowcasting
Doordarshan made organic efforts of narrowcasting the contents of agricultural programs for specific areas in specific languages using their low-power TV transmitters. The research and success stories of farming in local language were highly productive and popular. The contents on soil testing, type of fertilizers for specific crop and soil, water requirements, rates of produce, agriculture practices, and allied assistance were some of the elements, which were informed in the local language and local areas. The information related to agriculture requirements in hilly areas, lowlands, wetlands, plateaus, and plains are different and as such narrowcasting can cater to specific areas.
Narrowcasting – Outlook and meadows
The meaning of narrowcasting has shifted subtly over the decades, although it has retained the core sense of message delivered to a small group, rather than large. The latest development in the move from broadcasting to narrowcasting, coupled with niche news and other content, and the expansion of opportunities for selective exposure afforded by modern media technology, is referred as the personally mediated society. The meadows of narrowcasting may be in all fields, especially agriculture, education, advertising, tourism, health, news, religion, social, political arena, etc. The biggest need of hour is education sector through narrowcasting.
Since internet advertising works best when narrowcast, the more accurately companies can target their advertisements, the greater is their revenue. DTT using 1.7 MHz raster provide technical opportunities for narrowcasting TV content in specific areas and using HbbTV, which may be highly interactive and functional with fixed, portable, and mobile devices. Opportunistic data using DTH or DTT may be another option. The pre-recorded content finds commercial applications in captive audience like in trains, planes, taxis, etc. So, narrowcasting is the future frontier of broadcasting.