This week’s insights: Do audiences really want to control the art?… Journalism’s failing business models force reconsideration of its relationships with audience… Niche TV channels are disappearing as cable TV subscribers cut the cord… Arts for the “differently-abled.”
- Can You Give The Audience Too Much Control? Netflix’s new Bandersnatch is an adventure in which the viewer can choose their own ways through the story. But it’s a strangely unsatisfying experience. One critic: “I wanted either more control or less. I didn’t want just to declare the outcomes, I wanted to influence the motivations. Otherwise the outcomes have no grounding, no purpose.” Isn’t a big part of a draw to a story its ability to surprise you, lead you somewhere you haven’t been? So where is the line between what the artist declares or decides and how much control the audience has (or wants)?
- Journalism Doesn’t Have An Audience Problem, It Has A Support Problem: We’re so used to the advertising business model in which journalism trades its ability to deliver an audience in return for dollars. But the ad-support model has been precarious for awhile now, and the latest pivot for journalism is to a membership or subscriber-driven model. We’re skeptical. Derek Thompson in The Atlantic takes us through the challenges of the latest “silver bullet” and reminds us that the journalism model in the 19th Century was very different. What’s fascinating is that the ad model collapse is pushing journalism to really explore its relationship with its audience, its consumers. While this self-examination may be driven by business, it has led to questioning the fundamental ways journalism works.
- As The Cable TV Model Falters, Niche Channels Disappear: The rise of cord-cutting (people ditching cable packages for cheaper digital options) is beginning to reduce financial margins at cable and satellite providers, and channels that aren’t driving a lot of viewership are paying the price. So? If we measure success by how many people are watching, then this is just correcting for the market. If, on the other hand, this kills off diversity of programming (and some worthy shows serving smaller audiences), then it’s to be lamented.
- Expanding The Arts to Those With Different Abilities: Here at ArtsJournal we’re seeing more and more stories about arts organizations working with those who have been traditionally described as having disabilities. “Stories that are ability-positive center around real or fictional characters with different ability statuses, not for dramatic reasons, like an abled character experiencing a new struggle, but simply to show humans, in all their complexities, who make up the fabric of our world.” Tim Collingwood, an actor-playwright-activist who identifies as having Asperger’s syndrome, writes about how he was inspired to meet the ability-positive ideal with an adaptation of The Ugly Duckling.