Zappers, Casuals, and Loyals

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Zappers, Casuals, and Loyals are terms introduced in Henry Jenkins' book Convergence Culture in order to define how, why, and what consumers watch. Each term does not represent an absolute, but rather a framework within which one can understand better the habits of media consumers, specifically with Television. For example, a Zapper may find a show they like and become a Loyal to that show. Or, a Casual viewer may become hooked on a program and become Loyal. Again, these terms are not definite characteristics of viewing habits, but are useful in understanding how and why people participate within our culture today.


Zappers are people who constantly switch television channels. They will watch portions of shows, but rarely an entire program. According to Jenkins, "Zappers are like the folks at cocktail parties who are always looking over their shoulders to see if someone more interesting has just entered the room." Zappers are one of the most difficult groups for television advertisors to access and, therefore, they must use innovative techniques in order get their message across.


Loyals are people who harbor long-term commitments with television shows; they watch entire series. This group of viewers spends a lot of time discussing and engaging with the content of the program outside of the time the show airs. Loyals are more likely to pursue information through other media platforms due to their relationship or interest in the program.


Casuals fall between Zappers and Loyals. They watch a show when they feel like it or if they have nothing better to do. Casuals are more likely to carry on conversations or engage in various other activities while watching the program itself, rather than giving it their full attention. They may watch an entire show, but if another activity can better engage their attention, they may opt to stop watching the show.