What Is a Media Market?

The primary factor in establishing a U.S. media market is location or geography.
Some broadcasters want to work in a large media market.
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  • Written By: Kristie Lorette
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2014
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A media market describes the group of consumers that have access to the same marketing messages. Typically, media markets relate to radio, television and print mediums, such as newspapers and magazines. Since the Internet plays such a pivotal role in marketing today, Internet media market is another medium considered. Other terms used to describe a media market include broadcast market, media region, designated market area, television market area and market.

The primary factor in establishing a market is location or geography. A media region typically consists of areas that are close in proximity to each other. This means that a market does not consist of two different states—one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast. In short, a media region consists of the areas that the media publication reaches, which typically means it is two or three cities that run into each other.

A market typically overlaps with at least one major city. Most media markets include multiple cities or regions rather than just one city. The only exception to this is for very large metropolitan cities. In these cases, the media market may consist of a sole city. For example, in upstate New York, the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy make up one media market.


When comparing television media markets with radio markets, there is a noticeable size difference. A television media market tends to consist of a much larger area than a radio market. Primarily, this is because the reach of a radio station tends to be smaller than that of a television station.

Media region information is used by the media outlets to sell advertising spots. For example, Nielsen Media Research tracks the viewing behavior of individual households that fall within each media market. This information includes demographics such as the age of the individuals in the household, income levels, education levels and other information about the consumers of the media.

Advertisers can use this information to identify whether or not the media outlet is appropriate for its products or services. For example, if a company sells cosmetics for teens, it will review the information about the people and households that are in the media market to see if their target market exists within the media region.

Both countries in North America — the United States and Canada — have similar system for media market ratings and information. The two countries do operate on their own systems, but in a similar fashion.


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