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Fun for Some
LOST will never beat watching humdrum thunderstorms moving across the northern Iowa River Valley.

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.

Periphery Demographic taken to its logical conclusion. For this particular show, what's surprising is not that it has fans outside its target audience, it's that it has fans at all - it wasn't meant to entertain anyone, just inform them. But perhaps there's something hypnotic about watching the weather forecast on a perpetual loop, or perhaps the show has aged badly and picked up some Narm along the way. Either way, you can bet most of the people watching aren't doing it out of serious interest in the subject.

Sometimes the makers will discover the extra audience, resulting in an Audience Shift.


Examples:

  • Just about every form of transport ever invented. Ships, trains, planes, automobiles, hovercraft, funicular - you name it, there are people who'll travel around the world just to take photos of it. Even the infrastructure has fans - roadsigns, lighthouses, signal boxes and even roundabouts all have loyal followings.
    • Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf collects photographs of telegraph poles - Chris Barrie took up trainspotting for a few months to try to get into his mind for the role.
  • The Shipping Forecast, a specialist weather forecast broadcast at odd hours on BBC Radio 4, which gives the wind conditions in obscurely named areas of sea like "FitzRoy", "North Utsire" and "German Bight" in extremely condensed terminology "Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, south veering southwest 6 or 7, turning gale 8 for a time, moderate or good". Sound like fun? Well, tens of thousands of landlubbers listen to it every day for its soothing rhythmic diction. The daddy of shipping forecasts is the 0048 broadcast, which gives a full forecast of all the shipping areas as well as conditions measured at the various coastal and inshore stations (and thus extending the list of interesting-sounding names to include the likes of "Machrihanish Automatic" and "Selsey Bill") and is preceded by the jaunty theme tune Sailing By. It is then followed by the Radio 4 closedown, which consists of the continuity announcer giving a pleasant sign-off before the British national anthem is played.
    • Sailing By could almost qualify on its own. Originally composed to accompany footage of hot-air balloons floating across an alpine landscape, it is not merely a theme tune but a time buffer used to ensure that the forecast goes out at 0048 precisely. Thus, one only occasionally hears it from beginning to end as it is played to fill in any time between the shipping forecast and the last scheduled programme. It also acts as a distinctive sonic beacon for anyone trying to tune in. Befitting of these functions, it is a distinctive, repetitive waltz that many find highly soporific - it was for this reason that Jarvis Cocker chose it as one of his Desert Island Discs. Listen to it in full here.
    • There's an episode of Black Books where Fran is turned on by an ex-boyfriend's dramatic voice. She discovers he reads the Shipping Forecast and ends up... listening to it in bed...
  • The London Underground map, originally just an experiment in applying electrical diagramming techniques to the Tube. Yet today, it's one of the best known symbols of London, and comes on posters, T-shirts and ash trays.
  • A lot of old filmstrips (usually from The Fifties) were meant to be educational, but are now considered hilarious. Duck and Cover is the most famous of these. Gaia Online, a forum site that makes no pretense of being educational, has a special part in its cinema gallery for filmstrips like Duck and Cover, so people can laugh at them.
  • Numbers stations— coded messages broadcast on radio by and for the Government Conspiracy— have something of a cult following. They sound pretty cool, with monotonal voices reciting numbers or Military Alphabet letters, along with weird electronic noises. Like the Shipping Forecast mentioned above, some even have rather charming little tunes.
    • Numbers stations are to the shipping forecast as collecting serial killer memorabilia is to collecting stamps. More overtly entertaining in that it's absolutely terrifying.
    • Some guy even released a set of CDs with recordings of them.
  • Before it underwent Network Decay, the Weather Channel in the United States continuously broadcast local weather conditions and forecasts, and many people tuned in for long periods of time. At some point it switched to having the local conditions/forecast "on the eights"; i.e., at eight, 18, 28, etc. minutes past the hour.
    • Penny Arcade plays with this, when Tycho convinces Gabe that the Forecast Channel on the Wii is actually a game.
    • Maybe Its Me also parodied the phenomenon by having the mother get hooked on the Weather Channel during the brief period they had a pirated cable hookup. The writers had no idea that was Truth in Television until that moment.
    • Repeated now with local television stations and their automated digital weather subchannels. You can seriously get lost in following distant weather patterns coming into your area and the routine of the same 35 background songs and six commercials airing over and over again.
    • Also done in Stargate SG-1 when Jonas Quinn, who's from a slightly less advanced civilization on another world, finds the Weather Channel fascinating and can watch it for hours.
    • The Weather Channel and similar things being used like this is pretty commonly used as a form of "white noise" for insomniacs needing something to lull them to sleep/block out other noises so they can sleep (e.g. predictable, low-level, boring noise as opposed to, say, the news or a barking infomercial or a loud movie or concert) and by people who need distracting noise blocked out so they can concentrate but don't need the noise itself becoming a distraction (writers, artists, etc)
  • Webcams and streaming feeds of entirely boring things - road junctions, the sea, a coffee pot - can become remarkably popular. This Mitch Clem strip explores the idea.
    • 11 minutes of paint drying. Just paint drying. Yes, the proverbial most boring thing ever. As of this entry, it has almost a hundred thousand likes.
  • Many people, especially in the United Kingdom, have an interest in the non-program parts of television: test cards, fault announcements, etc. See Transdiffusion and its affiliate sites.
  • The broadcast of a burning Yule Log is an extremely popular "program" in New York during Christmastime.
    • Watching any fire burn seems to be strangely hypnotic.
    • In Roald Dahl's The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, Sugar uses a burning candle as a meditation aid: he sits and stares into the flame for hours.
      • This is actually a very common way of achieving meditative focus, especially for followers of Neopagan religions.
  • Similarly hypnotic: some cable providers have one channel that's a digital fish tank. One can spend quite some time just... watching it.
    • For a similar effect just watch this
    • According to one story, this all originates from one channel that never intended to show a fish tank at all. It was intended to be a perfectly normal channel, but it went on air before they had their material prepared, so for the few weeks of meantime they turned the camera towards a nearby fish tank. When the channel actually started showing programs, they got a lot of complaints from people who preferred the tank.
  • Bubble wrap. It's meant to keep items safe during shipping, but whenever anyone talks about it, it's in reference to popping the bubbles. (See also Kids Prefer Boxes.)
  • Screen savers. Sure, they're meant to protect your monitor from screen burn-in (or were, back when people still owned monitors that were vulnerable to it), but look at those colored tubes go! Oooh. Shiny.
    • Screen savers are like a cut-rate version of the Demo Scene.
  • Discovery Channel's How It's Made. There's just something hypnotic about automated machinery doing their thing...
  • Similarly, there's I Love Toy Trains, which has quite a cult following, and earns regular mention on American-TV lampoon show The Soup.
  • Also, the people who watch ESPN's Sportscenter at 10pm... and 11pm... and 12am... and 1am... and 2am... and 3am. Not because they want updating on their sports news (the show is recorded at 10pm and rebroadcast all night). But because the repetition of the same jokes, catch phrases and tag lines is mesmerizing. And also to catch the sneaky edits that the late night team makes when the first airing screwed something up, and they refilm a segment before the next airing.
  • That Other Wiki. The prose style is usually boring, and the tiny text is hard on the eyes, and yet....
    • The boring, humorless prose can be quite amusing when the article you're reading is about a humorous topic such as a famous joke, or something everyone should already know about, such as humans
    • While we're on the subject, this Wiki. How many other people do you know out there in your everyday life who enjoy cataloging tropes and their examples?
  • Argentine cable news network CrónicaTV. Sensationalist news is presented as bold white letters on red backgrounds, read aloud in a Large Ham voice, with "Stars and Stripes Forever" as background music. The news stories themselves include stuff like like "Drunk driver almost provokes a tragedy: Batman only witness", and "Man returns home for a pair of galoshes, finds another man on top of wife, and impales him with an umbrella. Victim agonizes." This is just a small sample of their "news".
  • Trainz Railroad Simulator and other railway simulators. Though the Scenery Porn probably helps.
  • Come to think of it, hardcore ultra-realistic flight simulators of the sort that practically qualify you to take a real aircraft out for a spin note  aren't everyone's cup of tea either.
    • Even more than that, there is a whole group of people who do shifts as Air Traffic Control for multiplayer ultra-realistic flight simulators. They're not flying, they're vital infrastructure. For entertainment, or...out of duty?
  • Listening to CB radio chatter became a trend in The Seventies, with Americans' obsession with the lingo even spawning the hit song "Convoy".
  • Prime Minister's Question Time in the British Parliament is a popular show... in the Netherlands. (The attraction seems to be the rather surreal nature of the whole performance, with its leaping to the feet to catch the speaker's eye, referring to opponents as "the honorable gentleman" followed by some form of insult, and of course the ritual of asking about the prime minister's calendar for the week before asking a completely unrelated question on some random topic.)
    • C-SPAN in the United States also gets a small (but very loyal) viewership of PMQ's.
  • Sirens. Plenty of YouTube videos of outdoor warning sirens, fire truck sirens, and also many kinds of horns and whistles. Many comments about the beautiful sound of the siren in the video, and sometimes references to Silent Hill.
  • Most fans of a Sports Game get their enjoyment from playing the sport represented as their favorite team or player while finding the actual running of said team in a "franchise mode" somewhat less enjoyable (or worse). However, there is a small sect of fans who will play the games exclusively for the ability to run a team in franchise mode, sometimes not playing the games at all; simply simulating them instead. Madden NFL in particular has a dedicated section of the fan base who plays this way, complete with editing programs for Madden 08 (the last released on PC) allowing them to control every aspect of this style of play.
    • This has even spun off into its own genre, called the "management sim"—some franchises even manage to be become popular to a degree. Football Manager, for instance, gets consistently high metacritic scores.
  • The Web as a whole has given enthusiasts of obscure subject matter a platform to share their unusual hobbies and interests with the world. And sometimes, the world notices. YouTube in particular is full of this stuff. Home movies of people's pets, demonstrations of obscure pieces of technology in action, copied-off-videotape footage of TV production company logos... It's never been easier to find yourself returning from your lunch break with a brand-new obsession.

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