Watching Television Without Pity: The Productivity of Online Fans

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182 Citations (Scopus)


Increasingly, online fan sites are providing instant feedback to television writers and scriptwriters, who are starting to pay more attention to the chatter of “the boards.” At the same time, the boards have become a marketing strategy for TV shows that takes advantage of interactivity to create fan communities and build viewer loyalty. Drawing on a case study of the popular web site, this article explores the way in which online viewer activity doubles as a form of value-enhancing labor for television producers in two ways: by allowing fans to take on part of the work of making a show interesting for themselves and by providing instant (if not necessarily statistically representative) feedback to producers. Based on interviews with producers and contributors to a bulletin board they frequent, the article explores both sides of interactivity: the promise of shared control and the ability to off-load some market research labor onto viewers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-46
Number of pages23
JournalTelevision & New Media
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • bulletin boards
  • fandom
  • interactivity
  • participation
  • Television Without Pity

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