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In the beginning of this year, the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) announced that due to low ratings during NBC's prime time lineup that Jay Leno would move back to the 11:30PM time slot from the 10 PM time slot he held on the network for the past four months. The 11:30 PM time slot was the realm of the Tonight Show whose host, Conan O'Brien, took over the Tonight Show slot from Jay Leno. This change would mean that the Tonight Show would start at 12:05 AM, while Leno's show would air from 11:35 PM to 12:05 AM. This decision caused a shockwave throughout the late night television landscape in the United States and through online social networks (OSNs).
The purpose of this paper will be to examine the impact that online social networks (in this case Hulu, Facebook and Twitter) had on the turmoil in the NBC national offices, the affiliates, Conan O'Brien's camp, Jay Leno's camp and more importantly, the fans of late night programming. Part of the paper and the time for the presentation will be used to explain some of the decision making processes of the NBC national offices and how those processes were perceived and discussed throughout the various OSNs. The second area that to be discussed will be the virtual artifacts and interactions created between the fans of the show. These artifacts and interactions feed into the "economy of cyberpromotion" that help drive fans to watch the shows, buy merchandise that promotes the shows and create content that cycles back into the fan culture (Elmer, 2000 & Ito, 2008). The third section will be used to discuss how fans took the resources gained from their interactions on these OSN and planned real world events and promotions to maintain the status quo on NBC via the "technologies of cooperation" (Rheingold, 2002). The final part of this paper will look at the aftermath of the feud and the lesson that can be learned regarding the role of "interactive audiences" and their ability to feel some connection to the content and the networks used to distribute that content (Jenkins, 2006)
Since this research is a work in progress, it would seem fair to try to experiment with a hybrid/mixed method of research to explore the problematic.The methods that I will use for this research will consist of a blend of a traditional case study, a virtual ethnographic study (Hine, 2000) and a contextual study. The intent is to use the traditional social network to set the framework of the structure of the network (both the OSNs and NBC). The contextual study would be used to flesh out the network and provide context on how the networks interact with one another. The realm of the contextual study would consist of the press releases delivered by NBC, Leno or O'Brien. The fan-created images and videos would be examined as well. Finally, the authenticity and identity of the fans' communities would be determined through a series of discussions with the leaders of the Facebook fan pages and pages that use Twitter as the mode of communication (i.e. "I'm with Coco," "Team Coco," "Team Leno" Facebook Fan Pages).
Since the purpose of this research will focused on impromptu fan communities, it seems appropriate to frame some of the discussion of the results as how fans use participatory culture to influence those with powers to direct the conversation and interactions regarding mediated products and brands. It seems likely during the course of this research that the concept of "textual poaching" (Jenkins, 2006) will be discussed as one of the methods used by fans to create "guide posts" to a particular ideology present the talking points of this feud (Gramsci, 1972). By observing and remarking upon this textual poaching, the hope is that professionals in the media industry could defend themselves against unpopular decisions to their fans and fans could use OSN more effectively to round up support for a particular cause. These causes could be more than a show of support for a particular piece of media to f
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