The Rise of the Audience
By Bexy Cameron | Head of Insight
'The Rise of the Audience' is an explorative piece on the shift in how the industry creates, promotes and interacts with fans and audiences due to changes in digital culture.
Following our work on the E4'ers project and the release of our documentary 'Fanculture: The Evolution of Influence' Channel 4 invited Amplify to the broadcast awards to hold a screening of the film and partake in a discussion and panel session on Fanculture.
'The Rise of the Audience' is the article that Amplify's Head of Insight Bexy Cameron wrote to to accompany this event, the article explores the ideas of participatory culture and creativity for audiences, and the power and influence of fans, both of which have been facilitated and accelerated by digital culture.
The world of fans and audiences is changing, and all because of digital, or so we are led to believe. Between trans media storylines, audience participation, user generated content, influencers, fans and brand ambassadors, it certainly seems like there is a shift between the power of media, entertainment, brands and the consumer. But what does this actually mean for the future of creating, promoting and interacting with audiences and fans?
Does the fact that television viewers can now take control of their entertainment consumption, in essence becoming ‘the channel’ mean the democratization of home entertainment, or perhaps as some seem to worry, signify the end of broadcast Television as we know it?
Does the fact that fans are now part of the conversation with brands, with their own platforms, integral to the promotional machine, signify a new way of marketing? Or does it mean that marketers now have less power over their brands image than ever?
Historically for both music, television and brands there have been barriers between them and their fans and audiences. And perhaps barriers the industries were quite comfortable with.
Previously the closest fans could get to the object of their fandom was sending a self addressed envelope to a PO Box in the hope of some low level interaction, perhaps a signed letter, postcard or more than likely a badge.
Audiences were slave to channels timetables, and at best, restricted to being the canned laughter behind the scenes, or applause before commercial breaks.
Consumers were once marketed to, promoted to, and like sheep told what to buy and consume – but now the control has been handed over, the barriers have come down, enter the rise and power of the consumer.
A Different Perspective on Fans and Audiences
Henry Jenkins’ pioneering work in the early 1990s promoted the idea that fans are among the most active, creative, critically engaged, and socially connected consumers of popular culture, and that they represent the vanguard of a new relationship with mass media. Though marginal and largely invisible to the general public at the time, today, media producers and advertisers, not to mention researchers and fans, take for granted the idea that the success of a media franchise depends on fan investments and participation.
But not only are fans and audiences being accoladed for their creativity and participatory culture, more recently there has been growing interest in these entities from the industry because there is huge commercial value on harnessing and leveraging their power and influence.
The two main areas this article will explore are the ideas of participatory culture and creativity for audiences, and the power and influence of fans, both of which have been facilitated and accelerated by digital culture.