Conference Recap: AEJMC

The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication met for their annual national conference in Chicago last week. It was my first time attending the conference, and I was thankful to receive feedback on my two presentations, connect/reconnect with friends and colleagues, and spend some time exploring Chicago.

On the morning of August 10, I participated in a panel titled “Streaming Content (and Relationship) to Life” alongside Dr. Jacob Groshek (Boston), Dr. Sarah Erickson (Trinity), Dr. Rebecca Nee (San Diego State), and Dr. Kelty Logan (Colorado-Boulder). The panel discussed streaming television from a variety of perspectives including second screening, emotion and binge-watching, advertising on Hulu, and political connections with streaming content. I presented preliminary research on the globalization efforts of Netflix and how these efforts affect local media industries. I received useful feedback on my preliminary ideas from the panel’s moderator Tiernan Cahill (Boston), and I am going to continue developing this paper over the next year. Continue to look for future updates on this topic.

After presenting my preliminary work on Netflix and globalization in the morning, I presented my paper on Netflix, niche markets, and transmedia storytelling in a poster session for the Entertainment Studies division of the conference that afternoon. I had some great conversations about my paper during the poster session and met with other people doing similar work. In particular, I was glad to meet Stephen Warren, a Ph.D. student at UMassAmherst who is working on operationalizing binge-watching. Binge-watching has traditionally been tracked by the number of episodes of a single show watched in one sitting. This definition brings a range of issues (differences in episode length; exclusion of sports, movies, etc.; and differences in marathoning/binging—for more on this, I’d suggest reading Dr. Lisa Perks book on media marathoning) for academics (especially quantitative scholars). Stephen’s work provides great momentum on academic understanding of binge-watching.

Outside of the conference, I was also able to explore the city some with friends and my fiancé. I was thankful that Amanda was able to come to Chicago with me for a few days to show me some great parts of the city and to spend time together before she went back to Wichita for the year to finish her undergrad degree while I continued the Ph.D. program at Iowa. Since we got engaged on Navy Pier, Chicago has become an important city for a our relationship. Some highlights that we’d suggest checking out: the Chicago Music Exchange (if you’re a musician), the architecture boat tour (at night), and the “Stop Telling Women To Smile” mural.

Conference Presentation: Transmedia Storytelling and Niche Markets

As part of my ongoing research on Netflix, I wrote a paper looking at the relationship between Netflix’s transmedia shows and marketing to niche audiences. My paper, “Appealing to Niche Markets: A Typology of Transmedia Storytelling for Digital Television” was accepted to the 2017 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference in Chicago August 9-12. After developing the paper a little more after the conference, I will be submitting the paper for publication. I’ll have a summary of the major points of the article posted to my site after publication. For now, here’s the abstract:

Traditional television networks have a limited amount of time available to broadcast content, so programming decisions are based on maximizing potential market reach instead of in appealing to small markets. Digital television’s broadcast time is solely limited by server space and regulation of broadband data transference, so their technological infrastructure affords more opportunities to appeal to smaller markets. These affordances can be seen through the types of programming digital television services produce. This paper proposes a typology of transmedia stories used by digital television services like Netflix and Hulu to appeal to niche markets to grow their business. Five types of transmedia stories were theorized to appeal to varying levels of niche markets: serialized continuations, augmented continuations, world building universes, cross-platform personalities, and adaptations. This typology provides a better understanding of the production practices of digital television networks, an area of research that has received little attention to date.