Media Researchers Debut New Lab During Super Bowl

Texas Tech University’s College of Media and Communication will study aspects of watching the big game.

Media Lab

In-Home Simulation lab

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest media spectacles of the year, and researchers at Texas Tech University’s College of Media and Communication will unveil its newest lab to study all aspects of watching the big game.

The Center for Communication Research is launching a new In-Home Simulation Lab Sunday afternoon (Feb. 2). The lab contains state-of-the art technology for studying viewing behavior in a controlled but natural space. Glenn Cummins, associate dean for research in the college, said the lab provides a unique environment to study how viewers watch and respond to television.

“It really does give our researchers the best of both worlds,” Cummins said. “To do scientific research, we need a controlled environment so we can isolate specific parts of viewing behavior. But this lab lets us do that in a space that feels like home.”


Media lab control room

The In-Home Simulation lab contains the same media technology found in a typical living room, but much more. In addition to a big-screen smart TV and home theater system, the room is equipped with remote high-definition observation cameras and microphones, software to remotely record iPad or smart phone browsing, and equipment to record biological responses like heart rate or electrodermal response. In addition, Cummins said researchers can integrate other research technologies such as dial testing to record moment-to-moment responses down to the second.

“There are many facets of how people watch the Super Bowl, and we designed this lab to capture all of them,” Cummins said. “Super Bowl commercials are a great example. We can study viewers’ natural responses in the lab. But we can also pinpoint specific spots in the commercials where a viewer shows the greatest physiological response.”

Shannon Bichard, chairperson in the Department of Advertising in the College of Media and Communication, says that identifying moments of intense brand engagement is important for advertisers.

“Advertising in the Super Bowl is a large financial commitment and this type of research can provide a valuable indication of return on investment,” she said.

The lab is the newest facility in the Center for Communication Research, which houses more than 6,000 square feet of research space. The center’s other labs include eye-tracking labs, a focus group room, dial-testing theater and large experimental labs.

“We already had one of the best media research facilities in the country,” Cummins said. “I’m excited to add more tools that help our faculty produce cutting edge research.”

Cummins and Bichard will be on hand in the new lab between 4:30 and 7 p.m. to answer questions.

College of Media & Communication

College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech offers undergraduate degrees in various communications-related disciplines including:

The College also offers graduate degrees in communications to prepare students for careers in the communications industry, communications research and academia.

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