From parasocial interaction to social TV: Analysing the host–audience relationship in multi-platform productions

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Drawing on an analysis of three entertainment formats with a participatory element provided by new technology, the article discusses to what degree contemporary TV production is in transition as a result of technological convergence. A point of departure is the host–audience ‘parasocial’ relationship and experienced intimacy at a distance, which was already identified in the early days of television. The article argues that, with the introduction of digital return channels and the increased production of multi-platform formats, the audience has become an external production unit. Its members are expected to provide feedback to the programme, and the producers are dependent on their text messages and votes to be included in the narrative and thus have a certain degree of influence on the production. The hosts thus encourage viewers to engage via digital return channels, and use techniques such as pedagogic instructions, sales strategies and semi-private intimacy. As a result, TV production is increasingly about producing a dialogue with the viewers, and about facilitating ‘social TV’ experiences via second platform interactivity.

Keywords: TV host; TV production; convergence; feedback; interactivity; social TV

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Oslo

Publication date: May 15, 2012

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  • Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook was first published in 2002 and places particular emphasis on film, television and new media. The yearbook, although carrying a theme each issue, welcomes a broad range of articles along with shorter review pieces.
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