For someone who doesn’t watch much television, the concept of “audience commoditization” becomes quite difficult to grasp. But that is not all, there are more concepts in Jenkins article that are difficult to grasp such as, “consumer expression,” (“that situates consumption within a larger social and cultural context” pg) “brand extension,” (“the concept that successful brands are built by exploiting multiple contacts between the brand and the consumer”) brand loyalty, inspirational consumers, zappers, (“people who constantly flit the dial”) loyals, casuals and brand communities. Ok, these are just a few ways of analyzing the marketing strategies and consumer behaviours, in Jenkins “Buying into American Idol: How We Are Being Sold on Reality TV.”
The concepts described above have derived from what Jenkins terms as “affective economics.” This is based on a simple argument that programming and producing a successful show involves more scams and marketing mechanisms for gaining higher audience participation, and therefore numbers. However, this statement poses some problems, especially referring to Jenkins article on American Idol. The argument is actually in the reverse. In fact, the consumer influences the programming of a show. Perhaps a little absurd, although I’m sure that there has been times when we have popped online, and perhaps joined a forum on our favorite tv program and contributed to the script, or became infuriated with a product because it has changed its style or taste, or how about a music band that has produced music for a sponsor and became “big” and then changed with that catchy damn song. We may have more power collectively than previously thought, or is it the technology that enables this consumer power. The latter forms a concrete basis of media convergence.
American Idol viewers got the chance to participate on the show through text messaging, and phone calls. Using mobiles phone devices and associating it with a TV show works positively two-ways. Firstly, it gives advertisers a market to work with, and hence identify with, which draws in the concept of an “affective ecomony,” and secondly, consumers become involved with the voting system in the show. In the article under ‘Contesting the Vote’, Jenkins provides an interesting perspective. It is based on the idea of “inspirational consumers.” American Idol Viewers provided two arguments on audience participation. Some participants didn’t find text messages as credible and others like the idea. This is the basic idea of convergence in Jenkins article; in all aspects of the media process.
I must add as to not provide a one sided perspective that, these concepts are not based on a way of viewing an American commercial or capitalist system in the entertainment world, which we can instantly think of. Rather, it is a cultural form that consumers identify with. Sex and the City appeals females, and with so much media convergence, as ads are played, banners are displayed on buses, many more people in society have turned to becoming fans of the show. Ultimately, there is a vast array of consumer goods that enables this. Similarly, the English Premier League is the same. Living in Sydney I was unable to catch it live (the Liverpool and Arsenal match recently played), however I caught it on TV via FOX. Even though many of you reading this may not watch soccer, you have probably most likely heard of the teams, Liverpool and Arsenal. This could be through marketing, TV ads, online ads, mobile phone ads, via commodities, or communities. Media convergence is occurring around us and we are therefore able to get more media participation and can personalize our tastes and shows to any extent that we want.