The accidental audience: industrial management of unexpected television viewerships

Burdfield, Claire (2017) The accidental audience: industrial management of unexpected television viewerships. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The Accidental Audience considers how media organizations construct and respond to audience members that are not part of the intended audience for a particular media product. Focusing on public service and commercial children’s television, this thesis explores how the increasing reliance on audience research and audience profiling, generating ideas of a constructed intended audience, can often oversimplify the unpredictable, messy and complex reality of television audiences.

This thesis draws on critical work about industry conceptions of media audiences, notably the work of Philip Napoli, to develop a framework for conceptualizing the accidental audience. This focuses on the discrepancy between intended and actual audiences in the form of unexpected viewerships for (children’s) television programmes. Examining the television industry’s conceptualisation of audiences through the development of the TV ratings system, this thesis considers a series of case studies which introduce and utilise the model of the accidental audience. Specifically this thesis examines adult audiences of programming created for children, including the Brony audience (men aged 18-45) of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (2010- ), the student audience of Teletubbies (1997-2001), and the non-parent audience of Sesame Street (1969- ). In critical terms, this thesis explores how the television industry has responded in different ways to accidental audiences and examines the strategies used by the television industry to manage these audiences.

My focus is on the dynamic relation between studios/networks and accidental audiences and how media industries navigate unexpected audience constituencies, and the overall aim of the project is to advance knowledge of the negotiations that take place between screen industries and audiences.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Grainge, Paul
Evans, Elizabeth
Keywords: television audiences, tv, unintended viewers, children's programmes
Subjects: H Social sciences > HE Transportation and communications
P Language and literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Item ID: 47829
Depositing User: Burdfield, Claire
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2017 04:40
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2017 08:25

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