Literature Review

Most of my research supports my main point that digital media has had quite an effect on television, from engagement to viewership to producer decisions. It’s not something that faces much critique, as it’s undeniable that technology has changed and that’s led to growth in the way entertainment is consumed. However, whether or not this change is beneficial to viewers, or if it’s leading to the death of tv as we know it, is something that can be deliberated. Some view streaming avenues such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime as death sentences to traditional television. For the purposes of my research, they are simply ways in which television has grown with digital media. Additionally, social networking sites may pose the threat to some viewers as providing spoilers if they were unable to watch a show live, but conversely, these channels provide an opportunity to network with viewers around the world as they simultaneously consume the media together (i.e. live tweeting a show finale).

Through my research, I’ve identified many sources to inform my topic. One that has been particularly helpful in beginning my research is the Honors Research Project by Jean Marie McBride of The University of Akron. She researched social media and audience participation in regards to television, which is a big part of what I’m diving into. She conducted a study on actual behavior trends related to three different television shows. This provides me with actual numbers on how audiences engage with popular shows via Twitter.

Another helpful source is an article by Petros Iosifidis from the International Journal of Digital Television called “Changing audience habits? The case of TV versus the PC.” This article was particularly insightful, as my topic is focusing specifically on the impact that digital media has had on television and how that has changed the way audiences interact with their shows. He explores the convergence of television and personal computers, explaining their relationship and how they effect one another and their users. He also explains how “the Internet has increased the amount of content available to TV viewers, let alone that the best of the Internet can be brought to the TV set,” but also identifies that “The problem for companies is to find a way to convince viewers, especially older ones, to take advantage of the available options” (Iosifidis, 178). Essentially, what I took away from his writings was that it’s not easy to change the way an audience will behave, but that the Internet is expanding the options available.

The article “Twitter Time - A Temporal Analysis of Tweet Streams During Televised Political Debate” by Philip Pond is my key insight into the effects of social media on televised debates. His research is specifically on how useful Twitter can be for communication, especially in the context of democratic practices, like a debate. While the program in question is not American, but Australian, the principles are there and I believe his research is still beneficial to my topic on the relationship between digital media and television.

In “Active Audiences: Social Audience Participation in Television” from the Media Education Research Journal Comunicar, Dr. Quintas-Froufe and Dr. González-Neira looked at the relationship that has changed between viewers and their televisions in regards to the growth of social networks and second screens. They looked at three different talent shows on mainstream channels in Spain and studied their impact on their corresponding Twitter networks. They found that the “results showed that the success of the shows was influenced by the activity in the social network accounts of the presenters and the judges,” creating the connection that social media does have an effect on shows in this day and age (Quintas-Froufe, 89).

“Audience Behavior in the Multi-Screen ‘Video-Verse’” from The International Journal on Media Management looks more in depth at the mobile aspect of modern viewers – “viewers can consume video content wherever they have access to a computer, mobile phone, or television set” (Phalen, 141). Their research looks into how viewing has changed over the past five years (2007-2012), what drives those changes, engagement levels, use of multi-screens and how viewing varies from screen to screen. I believe the research they’ve gathered is going to be one of the most influential pieces I’ve found.

“Television as Gathering Place” is an article from 1992 that I’ve found to be a bit insightful to how television was portrayed socially and in communities before the rise of our digital age. This has been particularly helpful to see how television was interpreted as a “place” of sorts, and will be interesting to draw comparisons between how mobile it is in the modern day.

From the journal Communication Studies, the article “Glee Fandom and Twitter: Something New, or More of the Same Old Thing?” examines the behaviors of the Glee fandom/audience on Twitter and its impact on both producers and consumers of the show. As a central piece of my topic, this article guides much of my argument that digital media enhances an audience’s perception of shows, as well as the tangible effect it has on how they are run.

Two articles helped shape my perspective on the changing mediums of television because of digital media: “Is this TVIV? On Netflix, TVIII and binge-watching.” and “Streaming on screens near you; The future of television.” Digital media helped bring the traditional television into a virtual world where consumers can watch their shows, on demand on any screen they like.

My hopes for this research assignment is that people will come to see that digital media is a powerful tool, and has improved a means of entertainment and information that has been around for decades. My thesis is as follows: The rise of digital media in our world has enhanced the television experience for audiences, as well as changed the way shows are run and maintained.

I am exploring the question “How has the growth of digital media affected the way the audience interacts/engages with television shows, and how does that affect the way shows are now structured?” As television has been around so long, it’s something that developed its own path outside of digital media. Similar to how radio adapted after television became so prominent, television had to change after digital media integrated into everything. While some may see this as an irrelevant topic, because television is written off for entertainment, it’s also the way majority of Americans receive news. According to Nielsen’s ratings, there are an estimated 118.4 million TV homes in America. While a lot of what will become of my research will pertain to shows for entertainment, I also intend to find how digital media has effected audiences of televised debates and other election-related media, given the prominence its had over the last year here in the US.

As for finding my research, most of the keywords I had success with included “social television”, “digital tv”, “audience engagement”, “media culture” and “social media” with “television”. I also additionally searched for “Twitter” and “Netflix”, as those are large pieces of our digital media puzzle.