What is Connected Viewing?

Connected viewing provides a crucial frame through which we can understand the evolution of film, television, and gaming in the digital era. It points to an impending revolution in how screen media is created, circulated, and consumed. Specifically referring to a multi-platform entertainment experience, connected viewing also relates to a larger trend across the media industries to integrate digital technology and socially networked communication with traditional screen media practices.

While these developments have directed the flow of entertainment content in new patterns and upended traditional business models, connected viewing is more than digital distribution. Instead, it encapsulates the broader ecosystem in which digital distribution is rendered possible and new forms of user engagement take shape. Connected viewing is as much about the aesthetic and social experience of second-screen media as it is about the intermediaries that deliver content to your mobile devices and the gatekeepers regulating your access. It also extends to more marginal players, those firms and individuals operating “outside” of the mainstream who are looking to create innovative connections to the digital, global, and mobile audience. 

In 2012, we began a collaborative venture with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution that is now the Connected Viewing Initiative. This project has funded an international team of scholars to study the multi-platform, socially networked entertainment experience through a variety of analytical frameworks. This has been a collaborative venture from the start; we were granted access to the work and personnel of a studio that is deeply enmeshed with connected viewing, and the scholars have used those resources to serve their own original inquiries and agendas.

With a team of researchers primarily trained in the critical humanities, the Connected Viewing Initiative applies a critical lens to the often-inflated speculation of the social and commercial promise of new technologies. It has fostered a community of researchers focused on the connected viewing landscape – a community that will hopefully expand along with this area of inquiry and its evolving concerns. The value of this community is hard to quantify but remains a testament to the spirit in which this collaborative research endeavor was originally conceived.