As the television industry has been remapping the flow of media content, as new forms of producers and distributors enter the marketplace, there has also been an accompanying effort to rethink their interface with media audiences. Over the past decade, weâ€™ve seen a renewed emphasis on audience engagement strategies which seek to ensure consumer loyalty and social buzz as a way for individual programs or networks to â€œbreak through the clutterâ€ of the multiplying array of media options. New metrics are emerging for measuring the value of engaged viewers and the kinds of social and cultural capital they bring with them when they embrace a program. So, for example, the rise of Black Twitter has been credited with helping to rally support behind new programs with strong black protagonists, such as ABCâ€™s â€œScandal,â€ Foxâ€™s â€œSleepy Hollowâ€ and BETâ€™s â€œBeing Mary Jane.â€ Second-screen apps are becoming ubiquitous as television producers seek to hold onto the attention of a generation of viewers who are prone to multitasking impulses. The successful â€œVeronica Marsâ€ Kickstarter campaign opens up the prospect of fans helping to provide funding in support of their favorite stars, creators or series. And the commercial success of â€œ50 Shades of Grey,â€ which was adapted from a piece of â€œTwilightâ€ fan fiction, has alerted the publishing world to the previously underappreciated value of womenâ€™s fan fiction writing as a recruiting ground for new talent and as a source for new creative material. Yet, for all this focus on engaged audiences, does the industry value some form of viewers and viewership more than others? Which groups are being underrepresented here and why? Are the new economic arrangements between fans and producers fair to all involved?
Ivan Askwith – Lead strategist, â€œVeronica Marsâ€ Kickstarter Campaign
Vicky L. Free – Chief marketing officer, BET Networks
Nick Loeffler – Director of business development, Kindle Worlds
Stacey Lynn Schulman – Senior vice president, chief research officer, Television Bureau of Advertising
Sharon L. Strover – Professor, College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin
Henry Jenkins – Co-director, Transforming Hollywood / provost professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education, USC Annenberg School for Communication