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Disruption 2.0: Broadcast vs. Social Media (AM&BC 2008)

Disruption 2.0: Broadcast vs. Social Media

Axel Bruns

"FASTRACKED FROM THE US." The words appear every day on our television screens. But apart from the embarrassing misspelling, what do they tell us?

In the first place, they point to the impact of alternative - both legitimate and illegitimate - distribution channels for TV content. Filesharing networks now routinely bring hot new US series to our screens well before the broadcast networks do; live streaming services offer sports, concerts, news, and other live content as it happens rather than as it fits the day's programming schedule. Academic and TV celebrity Mark Pesce has described the case of the 'reimagined' Battlestar Galactica, broadcast in the UK and bittorrented world-wide some months before its premiere in the USA, as a sign of the impending death of TV as we know it; at the same time, he also pointed out the fact that widespread online distribution of BSG's first series did not hurt (and possibly even boosted) ratings for the show when it eventually aired on the Sci-Fi Channel (see Pesce, 2005). It remains unclear whether such observations apply more widely, however - science fiction fans may be committed enough to re-watch a show's 'official' screening in order to encourage producers, but the same may not be true for more mainstream audiences.

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