April 2017 Conference

Streaming, Binge-Watching & Second Screening: Online Social Television in Perspective


Television has been transformed. It is not a just fixed, flickering screen in living rooms and public spaces around the world anymore. In the contemporary sense, television has literally cut the cord to become a mobile, always-on, and personalized experience that is informed by recommendations and algorithms. Seeing “what’s on” TV from a hierarchical schedule provided by a handful of dominant media producers and distribution systems is fading into memory or no longer exists for billions of television viewers around the world.

Livestream, tweet #SocialTVatBU and follow @EMSatBU

Agenda (draft only and subject to change)

DAY ONE, Thursday, April 20, 2017at The Castle on Boston University campus, 225 Bay State Road

11:00 AM: Coffee and registration

11:15 AM: Welcoming remarks by Dean Tom Fiedler, College of Communication, Boston University

11:30 AM: Opening address, “Social Network News” by Pablo J. Boczkowski (Northwestern University)

12:30 PM: Lunch roundtable, with presentations on:

  • “Streaming Soap Opera: Cultural Hierarchy and the (Short) History of Streaming TV Originals” by Elana Levine (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee)
  • “The Ongoing Transition from Broadcast to Streaming Models of Production and Consumption” by Jay Roewe (HBO)
  • Chair: Charlotte Howell

2:00 PM: Panel 1.1

  • Chair: Brittany Andersen
  • Mark Stewart (University of Amsterdam), “Is Piracy Still The Future of Television in a Streaming World?”
  • Sarah Erickson (University of Michigan), “An Experimental Examination of Binge Watching and Narrative Engagement”
  • Bridget Rubenking (University of Central Florida), “Tuning in at 8, or for 8 hours? Predictors of Binge Watching”
  • Discussant: James E. Katz

3:30 PM: Depart to Boston University Photonics Building, 8 St. Mary’s Street

4:00 PM: Dr. Melvin L. DeFleur Distinguished lecture, “Living in Media” by Byron Reeves (Stanford University)

5:00 PM: Reception

DAY TWO, Friday, April 21, 2017at The Castle on Boston University campus, 225 Bay State Road

10:30 AM: Registration & coffee

11:00 AM: Panel 2.1

  • Chair: Arunima Krishna
  • Josh Braun (University of Massachusetts at Amherst), “Not Quite Ready for Prime Time: The Information Superhighway and Television News’ Long Road to Convergence”
  • Matthew Pittman (University of Oregon), “Who Binges What and Why?: Effects of Personality and Loneliness on Binging Preferences and Enjoyment”
  • Sarah Krongard and Mina Tsay-Vogel (Boston University), “Bingeing violence: Online original TV series cultivating social reality perceptions”
  • Lisa Perks (Merrimack College), “Media Marathoning through Health Struggles: Coping and Connecting”
  • Discussant: Kate Mays

12:30 PM: Lunch roundtable and poster presentations, informal discussion and networking session

  • Roundtable: “Streaming Myths: From Barthes to Binge Viewing” by Peppino Ortoleva (University of Torino)
  • Poster: Emil Steiner (Temple University), “Speed Binge: How time-shifting restructures the pleasures of TV”
  • Poster: Gabrielle Aguilar (University of Edinburgh), “From Couch to Headset: Exploring The Shifting Social Spheres of Television”
  • Poster: Yiyan Zhang and Jacob Groshek (Boston University), “Streaming Television and College Students: Uses and Impacts”
  • Discussants: Tiernan Cahill, John Donegan, and Blake Wertz

2:00 PM: Panel 2.2

  • Chair: Martin Nisenholtz
  • Erik Bucy (Texas Tech University), “Second Screening and Social Presence: How User Agency Fosters Mutual Awareness and Mediates Political Evaluations”
  • Chris Wells (University of Wisconsin), “Coproduction or Cooptation? Real Time Spin and Social Media Response During the 2012 French and US Presidential Debates”
  • Cathy Perron (Boston University), “Over the Top Content: Disruption and Opportunity”
  • Grant McCracken (Berkman Center, Harvard University), “TV, New Rules, New Viewers, New Challenges.”
  • Discussant: Tammy Vigil

3:30 PM: Closing keynote address, “Second Screening Politics Worldwide” by Homero Gil de Zúñiga (University of Vienna)

4:45 PM: Concluding remarks and dismissal by James E. Katz (Boston University)


Previous work in on streaming television and social media has suggested that “While the process of storytelling is technologically agnostic, each communication vehicle offers specific affordances that encourage certain behaviors and interactions” (Groshek & Krongard, 2016, p. 3). However, there is still only a relatively limited body of research about streaming television, binge-watching, and the use of television in combination with other social media platforms across a wide range of social, political, personal, emotional, and health areas.

Thus, the Division of Emerging Media Studies at Boston University hosted a two-day conference to address the most pressing issues related to streaming television, binge-watching and television’s growing intersection with social media. We hope this event, which took place in The Castle, one of the most historic and intimate meeting halls on the Boston University campus from April 20th – 21st, provided a platform for the collective expertise of International Scientific Advisory Board members as well as other researchers working in the area to make an impact unique to the field. As conference organizers, we do not want to place parameters on contributions, which can be empirical, theoretical, thought exercises, essays, reflections, analyses, qualitative, quantitative, observations – any scholarly approach was welcome.

Practitioners and subject-matter experts were invited to give brief papers on selected topics which were then followed by interrogative discussion. In addition, drawing on an open, peer-reviewed “call for papers,” additional scholars and practitioners were included in the sessions. The format of the talks was organized them into panels. In each panel there was a brief presentation by the paper author followed by an extended commentary from among panelists.

Audiences, both attending in-person and participating via live-streaming sessions, had an opportunity to raise questions and contribute viewpoints. Ample time was also scheduled for informal discussion so that discrete ideas could be explored in depth and serendipitous interpersonal connections can be forged. Following the conference, selected papers will be published online and in special issues of peer-reviewed journals so that the ideas developed and expressed during the conference can receive wide circulation. Some talks and interview excerpts will also be posted online to further the event’s impact.

In terms of topics, we ask contributors to feel free to draw on their expertise and vision, but of course there are a wide range of topics that relate to streaming television and second screening in terms of adoption, use, or content, such as (but not limited to):

  • Mobile devices
  • Life satisfaction
  • Human relationships
  • Health communication
  • Civility and elections
  • Political and civic participation
  • Television platforms
  • Social networks
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Algorithms
  • Metadata and meta-analyses
  • Academic performance

At this stage, abstracts submissions are now closed, but those interested to participate as discussants or chairs are encouraged to email to conference coordinator Jessica Bonner (jbonner@bu.edu). There are no specific author guidelines, but we do ask that authors be consistent in using the referencing style of their choice. Full papers (from approximately 2,5000 – 9,000 words) will be due to discussants one week before the conference. For those interested, we will be pursuing options for a special issue of these proceedings with a leading journal.

Key Dates

March 13: Extended abstracts (~500 words) due to organizers. Send abstracts to jbonner@bu.edu

March 20: Notification of acceptance decision.

April 13: Completed papers (~2,500 – 9,000 words) due to discussants.

April 20-21: Workshop held at The Castle on Boston University campus, 225 Bay State Road.

International Scientific Advisory Board Members:

  • Ahmed al-Rawi (Concordia University)
  • Luca Barra (University of Bologna)
  • Josh Braun (University of Massachusetts – Amherst)
  • Britt Christensen (Zayed University)
  • Vincent de Mees (Animating Science)
  • Pedro Ferreira (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Homero Gil de Zúñiga (University of Vienna)
  • Mareike Jenner (Anglia Ruskin University)
  • Elana Levine (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee)
  • Seth Lewis (University of Oregon)
  • Amanda Lotz (University of Michigan)
  • Grant McCracken (Berkman Center, Harvard University)
  • Peppino Ortoleva (University of Torino)
  • Matthew Pittman (University of Oregon)
  • Mark Stewart (University of Amsterdam)
  • Chuck Tryon (Fayetteville State University)

* Institutional affiliations are for identification purposes and do not imply endorsement.