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Audience is King: Audience Theories, Research, and Analytics in a Convergent Environment


Media convergences have substantially changed how audiences use media and engage with media content. Social media and other digital technologies provide increasing power to media users and allow them to consume media when, what, where, and how they want it. Nonetheless, individuals continue to function within structures of time, cost, and resources. In a world where time is limited and information is overloaded, audiences need to “actively” structure their preferences (e.g., repertoire, adoption of one technology over another) to self-organize their media and communication experiences, and build their media palette to help satisfy diverse individual and social needs. Structures now, more than ever, influence the amount and type of media use. As such, how and why audiences choose to use media – a fundamental question in the field of audience research – becomes an increasing challenge in today’s complex, ever-evolving media environment.


From the Uses and Gratifications to the Theory of Public Attention, from the active audience vs. passive audience debate to Nielsen’s recent re-identification of Millenials as Generation C, and from self-report survey to various social media monitoring tool adopted by the marketers, both academia and industry have aimed to develop better theories, more reliable measures, and new analytic tools to study audiences and make sense of their behavior. It’s believed that only when we achieve a complete understanding of audience behavior, can we understand such a usage’s influence on our marketplace and society.


The BEA Management, Marketing & Programming Division (MMP) calls for submissions to a special session “Audience is King: Audience Theories, Research, and Analytics in a Convergent Environment”. We welcome papers/panel proposals on a broad range of topics pertaining to audience research and its relationship to media content, management, and effects. The MMP Division is open to all epistemologies and methodological approaches, including quantitative, qualitative, critical/cultural and rhetorical approaches. International and interdisciplinary work are especially encouraged. If you have any questions, please contact MMP Division Chair, L. Meghan Mahoney at