April 2017: Streaming, Binge-Watching & Second Screening

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.

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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.