Media Industries and Audience Research: an analytic dialogue on the value of engagement

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


This chapter offers a reflection on the value of dialogue across media industries and academia in enhancing understanding of audience engagement and disengagement with media. The basis for this reflection is an industry-academic collaborative project between Lund University and Endemol Shine. The Media Experiences project conducted production and audience research on a range of drama and reality entertainment during a three year period in several countries, primarily Sweden, Denmark, and UK, with smaller off shoot research in Japan, Colombia, USA, and Mexico, and one case study which included transnational audiences from around the world (2014-2016).

The project was designed to look at the connections across media industries and creative production, genre, and audiences. It builds on an innovative approach where production research intertwines with the crafting of genre and aesthetics within particular texts and live events, and crosses over into audience research that explores people and their experiences of these genres, texts and events. This way of conducting multi-site and multi-method research is a means of taking seriously production values for creative content, such as the various ways people craft sonic and visualscapes; and it is a means of taking seriously everyday lives, such as the various ways people engage with these texts, and embed their engagement with entertainment into the fabric of their lives. This approach of a dialogue highlights the value of listening and respect (Sennett 2003) across creative production and audience practices. The researchers on the project listened to the voices of producers and the values they created alongside the voices of audiences and their experiences. As such, we became a bridge across the industry-audience divide, humanising audiences so that alongside ratings performance and social media analytics, producers could get a sense of engagement as cultural resonance. From a more theoretical perspective the intense relationship work of the research suggests a new semantics of engagement as relational, a means to understand the cultural resonance of digital television for future audiences (Hill 2018).

The type of research exemplified by an analytic dialogue across creative production and audience engagement aims to make an intervention in media industries so that we open up the language of engagement to include socio-cultural as well as economic values. This way of researching media engagement sees the interface between media structures, content and processes, as difficult to identify and research but significant to our sense of the media producer-audience relationship. In particular, the role of academic research can be to creatively explore engagement in varieties of forms. Indeed, by considering the value of media for both creative producers and audiences, the research can be form of public engagement, where we as academics can add cultural and social value to the existing forms of ratings and social media analytics. By opening up the meaning of audience engagement and experience we can glimpse how the media adds value to our lives. Corner (2017: 5) describes this kind of engagement as a resource for living, a means to improve the conditions for social and cultural equality. Here then, moving beyond conventional forms of engagement can highlight the long view of engagement as a cultural resource for lived experiences.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Media Studies


  • media audiences, media industries, media engagement, Reality Television
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Handbook of Media and Communication Research
Subtitle of host publicationQualitative and Quantitative Methodologies
EditorsKlaus Bruhn Jensen
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9781138492929
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 29
Publication categoryResearch