As the new decade dawns, Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia, and NBCUniversal have launched (or will soon launch) their own streaming platforms. These entrants prove once again that the ecology of television and digital content is one that continuously shifts, raising the question: Is a streaming war in full swing? With legacy media companies and major technology companies entering the ring, has the streaming arena now become too crowded? And how will consumers, amidst ever-multiplying, well-funded platforms vying for their attention, alter and/or reinforce their viewership and subscription consumer habits?
This special issue of Flow’s twenty-sixth volume, “Streaming Wars and the Future of Television,” asks cultural and media scholars to consider these and other questions related to the recent shift in streaming media — all while remembering streaming technologies’ long and integral role in post-network American television. From 2000, with the use of cameras to live-stream the activities of the Big Brother house on AOL, to the mid 2000s, when platforms began delivering content digitally to households, and the early 2010s, when Netflix, Amazon Video, and others began producing original content — over the past 20 years, the short history of streaming has been made up of numerous evolutions. The entrance of these new streaming platforms, then, might be better understood not as a revolutionary break from one era to another but rather as yet another (albeit monumental) progression.
Therefore, we invite submissions that grapple with this most recent shift. Using industrial, historical, political, regulatory, economic, cultural, national, and transcultural/international lenses, scholars might consider: Is there something new and noteworthy about this particular moment in streaming media, or does it echo previous business models? In what ways do (or don’t) these newer platforms signal the future of television? What is gained or lost as legacy media outlets move into digital terrain? And in what ways can scholars across television studies, media industries, platform studies, and related fields collaborate and converse about this multi-billion dollar push into a new industrial and technological era of television? Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to:
- Focused studies on specific platforms, their respective parent media companies, and/or their distinct strategies on entering the streaming market
- Weekly episodic release vs. binge model
- Narrative/representational possibilities borne from new streaming production/distribution models
- Reconceptualizing media conglomeration, mergers & acquisitions, and integration studies
- Use of particular IP or content from media libraries to leverage access and finance
- Implications for pre-existing niche, minor, and independent streaming platforms
- Changes in film distribution and exhibition
- Changes in international media flows
- Production studies of such issues as shifts in narrative development, financial affordances, and marketability through A-list talent
To be considered for this timely issue, please submit a completed short essay of 1,200-1,500 words, along with at least three images (.png), video, and/or new media files (GIFs, etc.), and a short bio, to co-managing editors Rusty Hatchell and Selena Dickey at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, February 10, 2020.
The Special Issue will be published at flowjournal.org on Monday, March 2, 2020.