Audience• Audience is a huge area of Media Studies with many variants and competing approaches, so it is important to be precise about our focus which is on the relationship between audience and institution.• For this part of your course you are concerned with audience theory, as you will be exploring the ways that audiences are created/constructed for different films.• You will need to analyse the complex nature of new media audiences and how digital media distribution and consumption has allowed consumers to become far more active users of media.• This is more difficult than simply saying the film industry targets ‘16-24 year olds’.• The new media erodes the boundary between producer and audience:
Conventional research methods are replaced - or at least supplemented - by new methods which recognise and makeuse of peoples own creativity, and brush aside the outmoded notions of receiver audiences and elite producers. David Gauntlett (2007) Digital media has changed the relationship between us and them.
Audience Fragmentation• This phrase is used to describe the ways the idea of audience is in the digital era is changing.• Convergent media has brought about this fragmentation.• This means that the potential audience group for any particular film has been ‘broken up’.• There’s less point in the UK distributors of Quantum of Solace paying for an expensive TV ad during Coronation Street if they know that fewer members of their target audience will be watching.
User generated content… Social networking… Rolling news… Instant messenging… Film piracy…What different kinds of entertainment have arrived since the 1970s to fragment filmaudiences?
Audience Fragmentation• On the other hand, Csigo (2007) sees this trend as a ‘duality’ working in two ways.• Convergence leads to the traditional mass audience fragmenting into smaller niche audiences but also ‘falling together’ in other ways by becoming more intimate members of smaller group.• In other words there are less big- budget, blockbusters now, and more films aimed at promoting a ‘cult’ audience.
How do producers and distributors use converging media to create ‘cult’ audiences?
Audience Fragmentation• In this new climate the film industry is desperately trying to provide 360-degree branding for their films - to surround us with them across all the various converged media forms that we come into contact with.• Csigo suggests that media institutions like the film industry are no longer interested in keeping the audience together, but in ‘triggering engagement’.• Converging media can lead to both control by the film industry - as the various film companies get bigger and bigger and control more and more of the industry but also resistance by the consumers, who now get to produce their own films and upload them onto YouTube.
Audience Fragmentation• For the film industry this imposes huge changes.• The media world changes from a value chain where films are made and distributed to audiences - to a social network - a complex system where producers and audiences are mixed up – think about how the music industry colonised MySpace or how big companies have populated the Internet.• Another way of describing this is the shift from push media (where producers push films at us and we receive and consume them passively) to pull media (whereby we decide what we want to do with the media and access it in ways that suit us).
The new media world in comparison to the old media world is… ... richer, more diverse and immeasurably more complex because of the number of producers, the quantity of the interactions between them andtheir products, the speed with which people in this space can communicate with one another and the pace of development made possible by ubiquitous networking. Reuters (2007) Q. Explain, using specific examples, how the expansion of digital media has been an improvement for audiences…
During the 1990s, the shift to digital transmission of all forms ofdata has increased at an accelerated pace. This shift to computer language has already redefined the music industry and will overtake film, radio, and television production and distribution. In the future virtually all forms of data and information will be produced and stored in interchangeable digital bits. Herman and McChesney (1997) Digital media will change the relationship between us and everything else.
Corporate Intrusion into Cyberspace• If it seems strange that the big corporations are keen to either take over or form partnerships with websites that threaten them by distributing material for free, then consider this.• UK only internet advertising generates around £2 billion a year - more than 50 % of the money made from TV ads.• This figure has increased greatly since 2007. Why?• More UK homes are now equipped with broadband. This results in an increase in time spent online compared to other media (such as TV) and this has in turn created a huge increase in money invested in online adverts - a fairly simple equation.• Currently, Google alone clean up around 45% of all the revenue from online ads in the UK.• About £1 billion per year.