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Post-network audiences and cable crime drama

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The proliferation of original programming by cable networks and the increasing availability of digital video recorders, video-on-demand services and broadband Internet access has led many observers to assert that American television is in the midst of its ‘third golden age’. Such claims rely heavily on the recent prominence of cable crime drama. Yet, to date, there is little scholarship addressing TV’s rising cultural status from the perspective of audiences. Using qualitative data gathered from 31 respondents (ages 18–34), this article focuses on viewers’ relationships with select crime dramas appearing on basic cable (advertiser-supported) and premium cable (subscriber-supported) networks and cable omnivores who watch cable crime dramas produced in a variety of economic contexts. Considering not only what viewers watch, but also how they choose to engage with some programmes and not others, the findings indicate that post-network audience reception practices vary with the cultural status of a given show.
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Keywords: American audiences; crime drama; golden age; post-network television; reception analysis; television studies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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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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