“Reconsidering Quality: Cosmopolitan Audiences as Markers of Quality” at AEJMC 2020

EDIT: This paper was originally accepted at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2020 National Conference. That conference was cancelled due to COVID-19. The paper was then resubmitted to AEJMC’s 2020 National Conference.

I’m excited to be presenting a new paper on television “quality” at AEJMC 2020. “Quality” has many meanings that differ based on the person defining the term. In the television industry, quality has been defined by shows with large audiences, shows that appeal to distinct audiences advertisers hope to reach, and aesthetics and storytelling that go beyond viewers’ everyday expectations. The former two definitions have tended to be favored by the industry while the latter has been favored by critics. Both of the definitions used by the industry that are described here define quality by a show’s relationship to its audience and advertisers. So, how does the industry define quality when internet-distributed television services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video don’t have advertisers?

This talk will argue that shows that travel transnationally serve as markers of quality for internet-distributed television services. Through a discussion of Netflix’ globalizing rhetoric, research on the economic models behind the companies, and the types of shows that they promote globally, I hope to delineate the types of shows that serve as quality, and the differences between those shows.