Winter 1987 // Volume 25 // Number 4 // Research in Brief // 4RIB2

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Television as a Delivery System


S. Kay Rockwell
Evaluation Specialist
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

James K. Randall
Communication Specialist
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

"Farm and Ranch Report," a television series designed to provide agricultural producers in Nebraska with current production and marketing information, first aired in May 1982 and continued during the growing season through 1985. Using a magazine format, Extension specialists and agents discussed timely topics in crop and livestock production and marketing on each weekly program.

Farm and Ranch Report: The First Four Years1 reports three interviews conducted with the program's target audience toward the end of the growing seasons in 1982, 1983, and 1985 (573, 532, and 511 farmers, respectively). The primary objective for all three studies was to obtain viewership statistics from the target audience and reactions to the program from the regular viewers.


Some of our conclusions based on these studies include:

  • The percentage of farmers/ranchers who watched the program on a regular basis increased throughout the first two viewing seasons and leveled off at about 12% to 13%.
  • The viewing audience changed from a high percentage of current Extension clientele the first year to a more representative cross-section of farmers/ranchers the fourth year.
  • Of the regular viewers, 98% indicated the content was pertinent, 83% said it was delivered appropriately, and 98% felt it was delivered at an appropriate time in the growing season.
  • In 1983, it cost about 66 cents per viewer per 1/2 hour program. The out-of-pocket costs for producing the program were approximately 45 cents; the indirect costs for specialists' time were about 21 cents.2
  • Segments of Farm and Ranch Report were sent to commercial stations on a weekly basis to use in newscasts. Therefore, 80% of the farmers who watch farm news were probably exposed to parts of the program without recognizing the source of the information.


Continual programming over several years is an important factor in developing an audience when Extension selects television as a delivery system. Through this continual programming, Extension begins to attract viewers who aren't among its regular clientele.

Delivering production and marketing information via television appears to be accepted well by farmers/ranchers as a method for receiving pertinent and timely information.

To increase the value of the program within its cost guidelines, segments can be used in multiple ways, such as distribution for broadcast through other appropriate television and radio avenues.


1. S. K. Rockwell and J. K. Randall, Farm and Ranch Report: The First Four Years (Lincoln: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Cooperative Extension Service, 1986).

2. S. K. Rockwell, Testing and Evaluating a Flow Chart for Identifying Program Impact with Implications for Evaluation (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1984).