Spoiler Definitions and Behaviors in the Post-Network Era

The Media Marathoning researched forced me to think a lot about spoilers. Unless enjoying a whole season drop (such as Orange is the New Black or House of Cards), marathoners must time shift (watch episodes after their air date). Time shifting is an agentic move that allows viewers to watch on their own schedule; however, it opens them up to the perils of spoiling–if spoilers are indeed seen as perilous.

Twitter spoilers

Image from complex.com

Noelle McElrath-Hart and I (with research help from Julia Keiper) explored many dynamics of spoilers. Our first spoiler study was accepted this spring by Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. 

Here is the abstract:

Analysis of discourse gathered from 92 television time shifters reveals varying attitudes and behaviors toward spoilers. We found that all study participants’ spoiler behaviors could be classified into one of four categories: avoid (N=47, 51%), seek (N=7, 8%), ambivalent (N=26, 28%), or disinterested (N=12, 13%).Throughout this essay, we argue that spoiler avoiders embrace post-network era reception practices, but use network era norms to evaluate their own experience and regulate the television conversations around them. We see, however, an erosion of those network era norms in people who either use spoilers to enhance their narrative pleasure or who do not actively police television conversations around them. These findings suggest that television conversation norms and individual evaluations of narrative pleasures are slower to evolve than reception patterns. Our study brings convergence culture questions of narrative pleasure, discursive patterns, active audience behaviors and contested grounds of power to the surface.

I carefully read the SAGE contributor agreement to learn my rights. And, hey, I have some rights. I can post the article to my personal website or blog (not to Academia.edu just yet). So here is the full article:

Convergence Spoilers Revision Final April 2016.

I know it goes against the principles of blogging to not update your blog frequently (guilty here), but I encourage academics to start blogs if just to get their work out earlier. Or you can just flout your publishing contract and post your work widely, a move that I also support.




One thought on “Spoiler Definitions and Behaviors in the Post-Network Era

  1. Pingback: Putting the “Reach” Back in Research | Media Marathoning

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