Institute for Screen Industries Research

User Engagements with Online Viewing Services

New online services offer potentially radical new business models, influencing how viewers access and engage with film and television programming. This project comparatively examined the emergence of online viewing services in selected international markets to explore the market conditions in which digital distribution services both emerge and operate, along with the ways in which audiences are using and valuing those services. The research was part of the Connected Viewing Initiative based in the Carsey Wolf Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and funded by Warner Bros.

Film and television industries are increasingly looking towards the internet as a mechanism for distributing content beyond the television set or cinema screen.


Project Overview

The project built upon existing research by Dr Liz Evans  and Professor Paul McDonald  into film and television distribution and audiences .

This research was pioneering in its focus on digital distribution, examining the role that new technologies play in shaping and reshaping the online strategies of film and television industries, and the behaviours, attitudes and tastes of audiences when viewing online. The project was conducted over two phases: the first (2011-12) focused on digital distribution in the UK, while the second (2013-2014) compared the markets and audiences for online services in Brazil, India and South Korea. In both cases, analysis of market contexts was combined with empirical audience research. The objectives of this work were to:

  • map online viewing markets in each territory in terms of both legitimate and illegitimate services
  • interrogate audience behaviour through patterns of technology ownership and use
  • examine audience tastes in relation to online viewing and the consumption of domestic and internationally produced content
  • explore audience attitudes towards online viewing services
  • consider how audiences articulate the relationship between economic and cultural value in their consumption of film and television content online
  • construct a comparative framework for the analysis of online viewing in national markets at very different stages of development
  • report findings back to Warner Bros to help shape their online distribution strategies

View the 2012 Connected Viewing report




View selected publications for the project

Evans, E. & McDonald, P. (2013) Online Distribution of Film and Television in the UK: Behavior, Taste and Value. In: Holt, J. and Sanson, K., eds. Connected Viewing: Selling, Streaming & Sharing Media in the Digital Age New York: Routledge. 158-179

Evans, E. J. (2011) Transmedia Television: Audiences, New Media and Daily Life London and New York: Routledge

Evans, E.J. (2011) The Evolving Ecosystem: Interview with Victoria Jaye. In Grainge, P. ed. Ephemeral Media London: BFI Publishing

McDonald, P. (2009) Digital Discords in the Online Media Economy: Advertising versus Content versus Copyright. In Snickars, P. and Vonderau, P. eds The YouTube Reader Stockholm: National Library of Sweden, 387-405

McDonald, P. (2007) Video and DVD Industries London: BFI Publishin



Project Team and Collaborative Partners

Dr Liz Evans, Department of Culture, Film and Media

Professor Paul McDonald, Department of Culture, Film and Media

Juyeon Bae

Sriparna Ray

Emanuelle Santos



Institute for Screen Industries Research

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD