Connected Viewing Scholarly Community

The Connected Viewing Initiative team reflects just a fraction of the impressive work currently being conducted about the multi-platform, socially-mediated environment. We are pleased to share more about the exciting research being done by our colleagues around the world.

To learn more about the individual projects, click below:



Studying Change in Media Industries: A “Middle-Range” Approach

This project makes a case for a “middle range” approach that steers between unbridled optimism and determined skepticism about the potential of digitally-influences change within the media industries. I use a major site of such change online screen distribution as a case study, considering how to approach the evidence for, and the significance of, change in industry structure and the main players, how content is produced and by whom, the nature of content, and the implications for audience studies


Dr. Stuart Cunningham is Distinguished Professor of Media and Communications, Queensland University of Technology, and Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. His current research focuses on digital transformations of the screen sector. This will be pursued as a Fulbright Senior Scholar from November 2014 to March 2015 based at the University of California-Santa Barbara. His most recent and current books are Digital Disruption: Cinema Moves Online (edited with Dina Iordanova, 2012), Key Concepts in Creative Industries (with John Hartley, Jason Potts, Terry Flew, John Banks and Michael Keane, 2013), Hidden Innovation: Policy, Industry and the Creative Sector (2013), Screen Distribution and the New King Kongs of the Online World (with Jon Silver, 2013), The Media and Communications in Australia (4th ed, with Sue Turnbull, 2014) and Media Economics (forthcoming, with Terry Flew and Adam Swift).


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Tweets from a Train: The Mobile Media Habits of Commuters

Mobile device (smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers) use has grown enormously over the past decade as people increasingly use smartphones and tablets to supplement the internet surfing they once conducted on their desktops. According to AdAge, people now spend more time engaged with mobile devices than watching their television screens. This change in screen preference has alarmed many that see this activity as excessive and detrimental to social interaction and human communication. My objective is to go beyond the statistics and attempt to understand how mobile devices are used in social contexts. I am interested to learn if people are using their mobile devices to enhance, rather than replace, their strategies for interacting with others. Historically, break-room televisions, cubicle radios, reading material for the commute and the waiting room have acted as cultural texts that people use to connect and find common ground. My research project is designed to investigate any links between the traditional use of media content in social spaces and the use of mobile devices. I plan to compare my findings with previous connected viewing research I have done about the digital media habits of people in the workplace. I am engaging commuters in a survey about their mobile media usage and documenting their use of this technology via screenshots.Through these methods, I will provide specific evidence of mobile device use that will bring complexity to the assumptions being made about the meaning of the mobile web. 


Dr. Ethan Tussey is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Georgia State University (Ph.D. UCSB, MA UCLA; BA University of Arizona). Research interests include new media studies, media industries studies, reception and audience studies. His work examines the relationship between the entertainment industry and the digitally-empowered public. He has written articles on digital media creative workers, online streaming platforms, crowdfunding, and mobile media usage.


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Giant Screen and the Digital Revolution: Revolution or Evolution?

The giant screen film (GS; commonly known as IMAX®) industry is struggling with issues in digital distribution, cross-platform access and audience engagement.  This industry is a valuable case study given that GS is marketed and branded as a viewing experience linked to film stock and institutional screens.  How (and whether) the industry successfully resolves these concerns will be valuable to other media industries addressing these questions.  GS stakeholders are struggling with multiple concerns: whether existing business models can support the move from film to digital and new markets such as China, and how to successfully navigate cross-platform distribution.

Of major import is whether the GS industry can survive shifts in engagement while maintaining the unique viewing experience on which the industry is predicated.  The GS community must learn to deal with an audience that is not/does not want to be bound to institutional viewing, and shifts in film quality and experience across platform.  

Using surveys, analyses of media communications, and interviews with GS stakeholders (distributors, producers, exhibitors, filmmakers, and marketers), this research is examining how shifts in distribution and usage are impacting the GS industry.  Research questions will ask:

  • In what way do market forces shape and constrain an industry predicated by its technological characteristics? 
  • What are the barriers and needs for digital dissemination?
  • How must the industry engage with and understand the new digital audience?
  • Do digital capture and distribution affect competition and market branding?
  • What is the potential impact of cross-platform distribution on brand?
  • How are emerging markets like China impacting the industry?
  • Are there constraints to national/international digital distribution and if so, how are these impacting product?
  • Does the business model for GS film need revolution or evolution?


Dr. Mary Nucci is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.  Her research focuses on science communication in film, media and museums.  She teaches courses in science communication in the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University. Her doctoral research focused on the role of visual format, rhetoric and culture in science communication.  She currently chairs the Research Task Force for the Giant Screen Cinema Association.  Dr. Nucci has an A.B. in Biological Sciences from Mount Holyoke College; and an M.S. in Zoology and a Ph.D. in Media Studies, both from Rutgers University.


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Streaming Heritage: Following Files in Digital Music Distribution

In October 2008, the Swedish music streaming service Spotify began operating and quickly came to dominate music listening on a global scale. Yet while Spotify and other subscription- and advertising-based streaming services continue to be globally promoted as simple, computable solution to a neatly defined problem of digital transformation, failures in living up to the promotional hype increasingly expose the ‘technological solutionism’ (Evgeny Morozov) that forms its base. In November 2014, U.S. country star Taylor Swift removed her entire catalog from Spotify, following a public disagreement with Spotify management over the low payout for Swift’s streaming. The disagreement sent waves through the music industry, given that no artist today matches Swift’s popularity. What, then, is the role of music in the age of computers and the Internet? How has the music industry been transformed by the economic and technological upheavals of recent years, and how is it likely to change in the future? No comprehensive answer to these questions has been provided yet.

Focusing on Spotify and comparable services for the distribution of music and video, this project’s answer consists in studying aggregation in following digital files rather than those making, distributing, using or collecting them. What can we learn about Spotify without talking to Spotify? Abandoning conventional media industry methodology with its belief in direct industry encounters and practictioner interviews, this project focusses on cultural data instead, “reverse engineering” their industrial processing. Reverse engineering experiments are conducted as artistic research in collaboration with hackers and programmers, and accompanied by a rigorous, self-reflexive ethnography of our interaction with industry spin-doctors, technology utopians, marketers, and managers that work on the ideology of digital solutionism.  

(project website)


Dr. Patrick Vonderau is a Professor at the Department for Media Studies at Stockholm University, and the co-leader of this project. He previously has worked at the University of the Arts in Berlin and at the Department for Media Studies at Ruhr University Bochum. Patrick is interested in media and cultural history, technology and social theory, and especially in understanding the multi-faceted relations between “media” and “industries” in their broad historical, aesthetical, theoretical, and technological contexts. He is heading the Riksbanken-funded project Advertising and the Transformation of Screen Cultures (2014-2017). His most recent book publications include Behind the Screen: Inside European Production Cultures (2013) and Moving Data. The iPhone and the Future of Media (2012).


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Media use as value-generating labour: Perceptions of the role of media use in digital markets

Continuously more of our media consumption is conducted through digitised, web-based computer and mobile phone use. Such extensions of our media behaviour into the digital realms of mobile and personal media and web-based services (search engines, social networking sites, connected viewing, etc.) have brought with it the development of new business models within the media and culture industries.

These models build on deep knowledge on the personal features and digital behaviours of media users. In the wake of this development a discussion on the role of media users in terms of labour has arisen. Parts of international research emphasise the emancipatory potentials for creativity and co-production. Others have a more critical attitude, emphasising exploitation, surveillance and expropriation of free labour. The empirical groundings of the debate are sparse, and most often build on very active users or fans.

Against the background of theories on reception and use, digital markets, value creation and media work, this project aims to analyse roles and justifications of media use in value creating processes related to those parts of the media and culture industries that build on participation and user activity (social networking sites, search engines, blogs, etc.). Methodologically this involves interviews (focus group and individual interviews), in order to seek knowledge on the media users’ own perceptions of their roles in relation to media production. 


Dr. Göran Bolin is professor in Media & Communication Studies, Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden. Bolin's current research interests are focussed on cultural production and consumption in contemporary culture industries, and how relationships between these are altered by digitization and marketization processes. His most recent work includes Value and the Media: Cultural Production and Consumption in Digital Markets (Ashgate, 2011), and in the edited volume Cultural Technologies. The Shaping of Culture in Media and Society (Routledge, 2012). Information on articles and book chapters, some of which are downloadable, can be found on


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The Word Hobbit Project

What does The Hobbit mean to audiences around the world?

On December 1, 2014 the most ambitious film audience research project ever undertaken will launch on an international basis. Under the banner of the ‘World Hobbit Project’ 146 researchers from 45 countries will seek to unearth, through the reception of The Hobbit, the meaning of fantasy in the digital age, in all of its diversities.

An on-line survey, available in 30 languages, will provide the gateway to these answers. It will reveal how audiences are meeting the opportunities presented by interactive digital media, from adopting new types of technologies—to experiencing new forms of content—to experimenting with novel ways of expressions. Trans-media content production, 3D image rendering on large IMAX screens and pocketsize mobile devices, higher frame rates (48-FPS) and digital distribution via Internet-downloads (e.g. Netflix, UltraViolet) all mark a digital cinema in transition. This study will show what this means for audience manifestations around the world, in particular those engaging with fantasy.

The project’s international teams will also collect data on social media usage; including the way audiences choose to communicate about the Hobbit films in on-line forums. Visual analytics will enable participants to follow and comment on the progress of the study through accessible data maps on project-designated web sites and social media outlets (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). Combined, these queries will reveal important cultural differences between audiences around the world.

This unique and unprecedented endeavor is steered by Dr. Ernest Mathijs from the Department of Theatre and Film/The Centre for Cinema Studies (CCS) at the University of British Columbia, Canada, with team-members Dr. Doris Baltruschat and Jennifer Grek Martin, as well as Dr. Martin Baker (director of study) and Dr. Matt Hills from the Department of Theatre Film & Television Studies of the University of Aberystwyth in the U.K.

 To find out more about our research teams, the study and its progress, access our web sites here and here. Also find us on Twitter @WorldHobbit


Dr. Ernest Mathijs is a Professor in Film Studies at the University of British Columbia. He researches the receptions of what can broadly be called ‘alternative cinema’ – cult film, genre cinema, independent films, David Cronenberg, and European horror films. He has also written on the reception of digital cinema and fantasy, in particular The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and on Belgian cinema, the reality-TV series Big Brother, the literature of Thomas Pynchon, the art of Joseph Beuys, and on theories of mimesis. His recent books are John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps (2013), Cult Cinema (with Jamie Sexton, 2011), The Cult Film Reader (co-ed. with Xavier Mendik, 2008), The Cinema of David Cronenberg (2008), and Watching he Lord of the Rings (co-ed. With Martin Barker, 2007). His book 100 Cult Films (2011, with Xavier Mendik) is also available as an iTunes app. His research has been published in Screen, Cinema Journal, Literature/Film Quarterly, Television and New Media, FlowTV, Film International, Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, History of Political Economy, and Cineaste. He chairs the editorial board of the online journal Participations. He is co-editor of the book series Cultographies and an associate of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC.


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Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture

Spreadable Media maps fundamental changes taking place in our contemporary media environment, a space where corporations no longer tightly control media distribution and many of us are directly involved in the circulation of content. It contrasts “stickiness”—aggregating attention in centralized places—with “spreadability”—dispersing content widely through both formal and informal networks, some approved, many unauthorized. Stickiness has been the measure of success in the broadcast era (and has been carried over to the online world), but “spreadability” describes the ways content travels through social media.

Based on the work of the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium, this project challenges some of the prevailing metaphors and frameworks used to describe contemporary media, from biological metaphors like “memes” and “viral” to the concept of “Web 2.0” and the popular notion of “influencers.”Spreadable Media examines the nature of audience engagement, the environment of participation, the way appraisal creates value, and the transnational flows at the heart of these phenomena. It delineates the elements that make content more spreadable and highlights emerging media business models built for a world of participatory circulation. The project also explores the internal tensions companies face as they adapt to the new communication reality and argues for the need to shift from “hearing” to “listening” in corporate culture.

Drawing on examples from film, music, games, comics, television, transmedia storytelling, advertising, and public relations industries, among others—from both the U.S. and around the world—the project aims to illustrate the contours of our current media environment and highlight the vexing questions content creators must tackle and the responsibilities we all face as citizens in a world where many of us regularly circulate media content.


Dr. Henry Jenkins is Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts, and Education at USC. He is author of five other books, most recently Convergence Culture (2008), Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers (2006), and The Wow Climax (2006). He is also co-author or editor of eight other books on media and communication.


Dr. Sam Ford is Director of Audience Engagement with Peppercomm Strategic Communications, and an affiliate with the MIT Program in Comparative Media Studies/Writing and the Western Kentucky University Popular Culture Studies Program. He is co-editor of The Survival of the Soap Opera (2011).


Dr. Joshua Green is a Vice-President and Digital Strategist at Arnold Worldwide. With a PhD in Media Studies, he has managed research projects at MIT and the University of California. He is author (with Jean Burgess) of YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture.



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Media Experiences

Media Experiences is a big picture project that pieces together the puzzle that is being an audience today. A broad research question includes how do producers create experiences and how do audiences actually engage with these experiences? Our innovative approach is best described as a dialogue between academic researchers, executive and creative producers, and audiences, where we listen to the voices of producers and the values they create and we investigate how these conversations connect or disconnect with audiences. In this way, the project investigates how producers and audiences can co-create, shape and limit cultural experiences within emerging mediascapes.

Media Experiences is funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenbergs Foundation (6.3 million Swedish Kroner), in collaboration with Endemol Shine, and includes a team of eight people from assistants to post doctoral researchers, consultants and experts working over a period of three years (2013-2016).

The project critically examines media experiences by combining analysis of production and audience perspectives in three key countries Sweden, Denmark, the UK, with further work undertaken internationally in countries such as America and Mexico, connected to case studies. Our cases include a range of drama, and reality television, such as The Bridge crime drama format (Filmlance International and Shine), Utopia cult drama format (Kudos and Shine), Masterchef entertainment format (Shine), and Got to Dance reality talent format (Princess and Shine). We also study independent documentary films The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence (director Joshua Oppenheimer). The project uses multi-method and multi-site research where each television series, or documentary film is treated as a fit for purpose study. We use a range of methods from interviews, focus groups and participant observations, to social media analytics and analysis of scheduling and ratings.

Our goal is to better understand contemporary audiences and their complex experiences of media as live audiences, catch up viewers, illegal users, as consumers and users, fans and anti-fans, contestants and participants. We see people’s media experiences as performative and interactive practices, which are evolving within the broader transformations taking place within production, consumption and social relations.


Annette HillDr. Annette Hill is Professor of Media and Communication at Lund University, Sweden. She is the project leader for Media Experiences. Her research focuses on audiences, with interests in media experiences, everyday life, genres and cultures of viewing. Her latest book is Reality TV (Routledge 2015), and her forthcoming book is Media Experiences (Routledge 2016). Other books include Paranormal Media: Audiences, Spirits and Magic in Popular Culture (Routledge 2011), Restyling Factual TV: the Reception of News, Documentary and Reality Genres (Routledge 2007), Reality TV: Audiences and Popular Factual Television (Routledge 2005), TV Living: Television, Audiences and Everyday Life (with David Gauntlett 1999), and Shocking Entertainment: Viewer Responses to Media Violence (1997). She is the co-editor (with Robert C Allen) of the Television Studies Reader (Routledge 2003). A variety of articles in journals and edited collections address issues of film violence, media ethics, documentary audiences, reality TV, entertainment formats, and sports entertainment.

Dr. Tina Askanius is a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer in the department of Media and Communication at Lund University, Sweden. Her thesis Radical Online Video (2012) concerns social movement media practices with a focus on contemporary forms of video activism in online environments. She has published several international journal articles and book chapters on online media practices in the context of both radical left and far-right politics. Some of her current work in the Media Experiences project involves political documentary audiences and qualitative studies of crime fiction series and their fans.


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