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Definition: Narrowcasting

Narrowcasting or silvercasting refers to the dissemination of information through a particular media channel to a specific, limited audience or consumer market. It can be very profitable because it allows highly targeted advertising to a small but dedicated group through relatively inexpensive means like video streaming using high-speed connections, etc. An example is electronic mailing lists, where messages are sent only to subscribers.


This practice gained popularity with the advent of cable television. The essence or the basic underlying assumption of narrowcasting is that only a specific demographic group (based on preferences, values, demographic attributes, etc.) would be interested in the subject matter of a program. In other words, it is based on the post-modern idea that there is no such thing as mass audiences.


Narrowcasting can be distinguished from broadcasting, which refers to the dissemination of information or content to the general public or a relatively large subset of the whole. Narrowcasting (for example, sending personalised SMSes or emails) is found to be more effective in reaching the target audience and noise elimination as opposed to broadcasting (for example, posting ads on social networking websites like Facebook or Twitter).


The Internet makes use of both these models. For example, websites which can be viewed by anyone with Internet access (such as Wikipedia or YouTube) follow the broadcast model. Whereas websites which require login information like usernames and passwords for access are run on the narrowcast model.


Hence, this concludes the definition of Narrowcasting along with its overview.


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