The effects of Latin-American Soap Operas on audiences: the case of University of Nairobi Students
Musundi, Noellah N
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Over the past 50 years, Latin-American soap operas have dominated Kenyan television casting a spell on viewers. Their demand is high with television stations airing three soap operas concurrently. This addictive genre has managed to captivate huge audiences, creating a loyal market especially among women who are said to be glued to these programs ~n a daily basis. As observed by Synovate Media Research (January, 2011) whose aim was to evaluate mass media trends and preferences among audiences and how the mass media can reach its audiences effectively and efficiently, soaps were seen to make up a huge percentage of the total television output attracting large audiences from all walks of life. Despite the presence of other foreign and local soap operas also running on Kenyan television, they are the most popular genre of television. It is therefore vital to establish their actual effects on its loyal viewers. Although a considerable amount of research has been conducted on these programs, it is mostly foreign and abounds with critical and content analyses of the narratives. In Kenya, very little is known about the actual impact of soap operas on their audiences thus raising important questions about viewers' involvement with the genre. This research paper seeks to establish the constructive and destructive influences of soap operas on audiences, the determinants of audience preference to Latin-American soap operas and whether they have similar or different influence on male and female viewers. It is also very important to understand the correlation between soap opera influence and the manner in which they shape the behavior of audiences. In this case, the extent to which the narratives influence the lives of students will be observed and analyzed, whether if any, they educate and inform the audience apart from playing the entertainment role. The study also goes an extra mile to examine the size and characteristics of soap opera audience as well as the possible implications that arise from these facts. University of Nairobi students will be used as a sample in uprooting and understanding the popularity of soap operas. Parameters that will be used to help establish soap opera effects are perceptions, relationships, socialization, expectations in life and time management.