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TV: new rules, new viewers, new challenges


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This is the presentation I gave at Streaming Television and Second Screening Workshop at Boston University. (Thank you, Jacob Groshek for including me.) It's about the new rules that create TV.

Published in: Entertainment & Humor
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TV: new rules, new viewers, new challenges

  1. 1. TV: new rules, new viewers, new challenges Grant McCracken April 22, 2017
  2. 2. • new contracts • new viewers • new challenges
  3. 3. thoughts on bingeing the Netflix results
  4. 4. a change is taking place in the medium, the viewer and the producer
  5. 5. this presentation looks at a change in the grammar
  6. 6. or to use another metaphor: the “legal relationship” between viewer and showrunner
  7. 7. there are “contracts”
  8. 8. binge and streamingTV change these contracts (both cause and effect, actually)
  9. 9. it all starts with Buffy
  10. 10. “contracts” as an analytic strategy
  11. 11. contract: the metaphor • a cultural convention • binding on producers and consumers • works as tacit knowledge • an implicit expectation • violated by producers at their peril • penalty: severing connection between show & viewer
  12. 12. the transition • from old contracts to new contracts • from old contracts to no contracts
  13. 13. 5 contracts 1.bad things do not happen good people lookTV vs. second lookTV 3.‘beauty vs. talent’ trade off 4.modulated, blunted vs. rawer and realer 5.convention bound vs. freer - form
  14. 14. 1. nothing really bad could ever happen to Jim Rockford
  15. 15. may they rest in peace • Zoe (Kate Mara) on House of Cards • Ned Stark (Sean Bean) on Game of Thrones • DS Riply (Warren Brown) on Luther • Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) on Homeland • Will (Josh Charles) on The Good Wife • Peggy (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) and Lamar (Powers Boothe) on Nashville • James (Dan Bucatinsky) on Scandal • Moira (SusannaThompson) on Arrow • Allison (Crystal Reed) on Teen Wolf
  16. 16. 2. one lookTV • the old contract • “we may not go back, we may not explain” • “one and done” • “no viewer left behind” • Dr. Exposition, if need be (thank u, Mike Meyers)
  17. 17. second lookTV • Buffy and the “sotto voce”TV • murmur dialogue • complexity and or nuance • the showrunner assumes viewer can go back and will • or accept the blame • no Dr. Exposition • (the Professor onThe Wire)
  18. 18. 3. beauty vs. talent • old contract • beauty as the necessary condition • as much talent as possible under the circumstances • new contract • talent as the necessary condition • as much beauty as possible
  19. 19. 4. modulated, blunted vs. relatively realer and rawer • old contract • a world that pulls it’s punches • horror is evoked if need be but never shown • new contract • graphic to the point of gore • unflinching • unforgiving
  20. 20. 5. genre vs. free form • old contract • genre loyalty • genres within genres • Lenny makes a wise crack • new contract • fewer “safe assumptions” • no reliable narrative arc • we just have no idea
  21. 21. what happens to the US viewing public?
  22. 22. culture has consequences
  23. 23. a simple diffusion adoption distribution?
  24. 24. diffusion shape with a ‘Moore’s chasm?’
  25. 25. or a “two solitudes” model of viewership (aka a bimodal America)
  26. 26. challenges • is ‘contracts’ a useful metaphor? • do we have a distinction between old and new contracts? • will the laggards catch up, will the gap close? • or is this the new shape of American culture,
 not just in politics but in culture? • what happens to networks and showrunners in the meantime? • can streamingTV manage “two solitudes” & how?
  27. 27. see you on social @grant27