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Wired TV

Wired TV: Laboring Over an Interactive Future

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Wired TV
    Book Description:

    This collection looks at the post-network television industry's heady experiments with new forms of interactive storytelling-or wired TV-that took place from 2005 to 2010 as the networks responded to the introduction of broadband into the majority of homes and the proliferation of popular, participatory Web 2.0 companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

    Contributors address a wide range of issues, from the networks' sporadic efforts to engage fans using transmedia storytelling to the production inefficiencies that continue to dog network television to the impact of multimedia convergence and multinational, corporate conglomeration on entrepreneurial creativity. With essays from such top scholars as Henry Jenkins, John T. Caldwell, and Jonathan Gray and from new and exciting voices emerging in this field,Wired TVelucidates the myriad new digital threats and the equal number of digital opportunities that have become part and parcel of today's post-network era. Readers will quickly recognize the familiar television franchises on which the contributors focus- includingLost,The Office,Entourage,Battlestar Gallactica,The L Word, andHeroes-in order to reveal their impact on an industry in transition.

    While it is not easy for vast bureaucracies to change course, executives from key network divisions engaged in an unprecedented period of innovation and collaboration with four important groups: members of the Hollywood creative community who wanted to expand television's storytelling worlds and marketing capabilities by incorporating social media; members of the Silicon Valley tech community who were keen to rethink television distribution for the digital era; members of the Madison Avenue advertising community who were eager to rethink ad-supported content; and fans who were enthusiastic and willing to use social media story extensions to proselytize on behalf of a favorite network series.

    In the aftermath of the lengthy Writers Guild of America strike of 2007/2008, the networks clamped down on such collaborations and began to reclaim control over their operations, locking themselves back into an aging system of interconnected bureaucracies, entrenched hierarchies, and traditional partners from the past. What's next for the future of the television industry? Stay tuned-or at least online.

    Contributors:Vincent Brook, Will Brooker, John T. Caldwell, M. J. Clarke, Jonathan Gray, Henry Jenkins, Derek Johnson, Robert V. Kozinets, Denise Mann, Katynka Z. Martínez, and Julie Levin Russo

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-6455-5
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: When Television and New Media Work Worlds Collide
    (pp. 1-31)

    In a 2005 trade article entitled “The End of Television (As You Know It),” a cable executive reduced the vast cultural-industrial transition then under way to a singular, technologically driven event—the incongruous conjoining of two black boxes—by stating, “The computer has crashed into the television set.”¹ In fact, the situation is far more challenging and elusive to describe, given the glacial pace at which vast bureaucratic organizations like the networks embrace change and the epochal nature of the impact of the Internet and Web 2.0 companies on the traditional television industry. Complicating matters for media scholars engaged in...

  5. 1 Authorship Up for Grabs: Decentralized Labor, Licensing, and the Management of Collaborative Creativity
    (pp. 32-52)

    In one of the most dramatically tense storylines offered by the “reimagined” television seriesBattlestar Galactica(2003 – 2009), the crew of the titular spacecraft encounters another military battlestar, thePegasus, which had also escaped the Cylon attack that destroyed their homeland and the rest of the Colonial Fleet. This joyful reunion gives way to a power struggle, however, when the two commanders recognize their competing ideals and incompatible plans for the surviving civilization.GalacticaandPegasusbriefly formed one big happy fleet, but they soon served as two poles in a line of tension between competing claims to authority. Ultimately,...

  6. 2 In the Game: The Creative and Textual Constraints of Licensed Video Games
    (pp. 53-71)

    When the video game industry’s blockbuster hits pull in huge earnings, as for instance whenCall of Duty: Modern Warfare 2grossed $550 million in its opening week, the press is fond of comparing these profits to those from film or television hits, as if the different media were locked in mortal combat.¹ But far from competing with each other, Hollywood and the video game industry continue to converge, buying out, buying into, and/or working with one another. On the one hand, Hollywood often mines the game industry for ideas, both adapting films into video games and mimicking the visual...

  7. 3 Going Pro: Gendered Responses to the Incorporation of Fan Labor as User-Generated Content
    (pp. 72-97)

    On January 15, 2009, a soaring female vocal cut through the recorded announcements at London’s Liverpool Street station. Passengers on the busy concourse stopped and smiled, recognising Lulu’s “Shout.” And then two of them started to dance. And then three. The music stuttered through a mix into another upbeat pop track, “The Only Way Is Up.” By now there was a cluster of dancers in the center of the concourse, executing a routine too tight and coherent to be improvised, too spontaneous and fluid to seem rehearsed. Like a virus, the choreography spread. A woman casually watching suddenly switched perfectly...

  8. 4 Labor of Love: Charting The L Word
    (pp. 98-117)

    The 2007 Writers Guild of America strike foregrounded the fact that labor, in both the institutional and the general sense, is an issue pivotal to current transformations in the entertainment industry. This dispute between screenwriters and executives illuminated the present-day predicament of mass media, which is hard pressed to keep up with a proliferation of content and platforms while squeezing ever greater efficiency out of its creative workers. These conditions have spurred not only the official exploitation of paid labor as expressed in the demands of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) at the bargaining table, but...

  9. 5 The Labor Behind the Lost ARG: WGA’s Tentative Foothold in the Digital Age
    (pp. 118-139)

    At a Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) workshop in March 2010,Lostshowrunner Carlton Cuse observed that, given the rapid rate of change in the entertainment industry, the innovative series might already be part of network television’s past. “We’re like blacksmiths in the Internet era,” he mused. “We’re making a show that I’m not sure will ever be replicated given the tremendous resources we used. . . . So we are dinosaurs that are dying on May 23 [the date of the series’ finale].”¹ The now completedLostfranchise (2004 – 2010) provides a useful means of examining the...

  10. 6 Post-Network Reflexivity: Viral Marketing and Labor Management
    (pp. 140-160)

    Post-network television today is characterized by a set of resilient industrial habits involving collective, critical self-representation. I argue in this chapter that the recent explosive growth and popularity of onscreen self-referencing, self-disclosure, and organizational transparency in the post-network era has been stimulated by at least four general factors: the wide-ranging breakdown of traditional barriers between media professionals and audiences; the new digital technologies that have animated the cross-cultural leaks and blurred borders that once distinguished lay and professional media worlds; the increasingly dense clutter of multimedia markets that require self-referencing meta texts for effective viewer navigation; and the increased competition...

  11. 7 Fan Creep: Why Brands Suddenly Need “Fans”
    (pp. 161-175)

    In the world of new product development and innovation, the term “feature creep” is given to the tendency of designers and engineers to keep adding features to a product. For example, a cell phone manufacturer might first add a high-definition video camera to the phone, then a digital voice recorder, then a remote car ignition apparatus, a bottle opener on the side, and finally, a small flamethrower for emergencies. These extra features are infamous in the worlds of high technology and computer software development. Websites are particularly prone to this enthusiasm for add-ons. Feature creep is commonly blamed for cost...

  12. 8 Outsourcing The Office
    (pp. 176-196)
    M. J. CLARKE

    In a 2002 episode ofThe Simpsons, the animated family is forced to flee their termite-infested home and find refuge by being cast in a new reality television program, “The 1895 Experiment.”¹ The show within the show, which challenges contestants to live as if it were 1895, is the brainchild of an executive of “The Reality Channel” who calls himself the program’s creator but admits in an aside, “by creator I mean I saw it on Dutch television and tweaked the title.” The program is an instant hit, but only until the Simpsons become too comfortable with their old-fashioned lifestyle,...

  13. 9 Convergent Ethnicity and the Neo-Platoon Show: Recombining Difference in the Post-Network Era
    (pp. 197-222)

    Convergence in mass media has typically been analyzed in economic and technological terms: tightly diversified conglomeration and the rise of Big Media on the one hand, merging of media platforms on the other. The combined effects of these industrial forces on programming forms and audience response have been extensively theorized through notions of televisuality and narrowcasting, commercial intertext, textual poaching/semiotic democracy, postmodernism/globalization.¹ While race/ethnicity has not been neglected in these and other theoretical interventions, it has not been extensively examined in terms of media convergence.²

    This essay explores how ethno-racial diversity in American network television in the multichannel age has...

  14. 10 Translating Telenovelas in a Neo-Network Era: Finding an Online Home for MyNetwork Soaps
    (pp. 223-243)

    The promotional video that introduced the press, network executives, and advertisers to MyNetwork TV at a 2006 upfront referenced what were perceived to be five factors behind the inevitable success of the soon to be launched network. Although it was touted as the “biggest change in primetime television,” MyNetwork TV was also associated with the decades-old genre of the limited-run dramatic serial. The promo began with a rapid series of images from MyNetwork’s original programming, then immediately moved to an image of a spinning globe with the names of countries like Brazil, the Czech Republic, and Greece scrolling behind the...

  15. 11 The Reign of the “Mothership”: Transmedia’s Past, Present, and Possible Futures
    (pp. 244-268)

    Transmedia storytelling has always been a blue-sky concept, the idealized intersection between the hopes of production personnel to gain more respect for their creative contributions, of networks to intensify viewer engagement, and of fans for more “complex” forms of storytelling. The chapters in this book provide some sobering reality checks, suggesting ways that our transmedia aspirations may be blocked by the silo-ing of production decisions within contemporary media conglomerates, co-production and co-licensing agreements with outside parties, and contradictory expectations of producers and audiences. Adopting a production studies perspective, these contributors offer case studies of what worked and what failed as...

  16. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 269-272)
  17. Index
    (pp. 273-296)