Amanda D. Lotz, PhD
University of Michigan
Department of Communication Studies
Department of Screen Arts and Cultures
Amanda Lotz is a media scholar, professor, and industry consultant. Her expertise includes media industries, the future of television, the business of media, net neutrality, and digital distribution.
North Quad #5445
105 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Consulting and Speaking Inquiries
New Work--In Progress
Being Wired: How Cable Transformed U.S. Television and the Internet Revolutionized It All
My current project pieces together the twenty-year transformation of U.S television. The story begins in 1996 and, contrary to what many thought at the time, is not a story of death, but of the collision of new technologies, changing business strategies, and unprecedented storytelling.
Being Wired explores U.S. television’s transition through two extraordinary disruptions. First, the success of original, scripted cable series transformed long held norms of television storytelling, perceptions of what U.S. commercial television could be, and several of the established practices for making television. As the book begins in 1996, advertiser-supported cable channels have to beg talent to produce series for their channels. Within a few short years, the dynamic is reversed, and cable becomes the epicenter of television’s new identity as a sophisticated and interesting cultural form. Chapters in Sections One and Two use milestone series including La Femme Nikita, OZ, The Shield, Monk, and Mad Men to tell the story of changing business practices in the industry.
But before the new norms of a broadcast/cable television landscape could be established, the emergence of broadband distribution of video threatened nearly every aspect of the television business, while also tremendously improving the experience of watching television. Broadband distribution not only brought additional program providers such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu into an already abundantly competitive space, but also finally forced adjustment of business models that were barely holding together. The cable service industry that was largely forgotten during the flurry of attention to cable channels and their distinctive and innovative programming revealed that it had transitioned into the internet service industry. By the time anyone realized that the future of television—broadcast or cable—was intricately tied to the internet, the cable industry had established an incredible advantage in incumbency.
In addition to the many technological changes broadband distribution introduced to television, Section Three uses series such as The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and House of Cards to explore how the business of making television changed as cable channels created their own studios and expanded internationally.
By 2015—the year that became the tipping point from the television of the broadcast and cable era to the beginning of the post-network era of broadband distribution—new indications of the future of television emerged by the week. Legacy industry competitors launched broadband-distributed services such as HBO Now and CBS All Access to chart a path into the new era. With appetites whetted by increasingly prevalent streaming and on-demand services, viewers’ desire to self-determine viewing practices assaulted industry norms such as channel bundles, the linear television schedule, advertising, and even the notion of the channel. Contrary to many predictions, broadband distribution didn’t come to kill television, but to revolutionize how it reaches viewers.
From Distinction to Noisy: Creativity and Change in 21st Century U.S. Television
Listen here for the audio from a recent talk--the first public try-out of the second third of this new project.
Upcoming Talks and
America Through the Small Screen: Television and Its Transformations, Innsbruck, Austria -- Keynote Address--Understanding Creative Change: Why the “Distinction” of 21st Century U.S. Television?, November 11-13, 2016
Intersections of Whiteness Conference, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany -- Keynote Address, Laughing and Crying: Marriage and White Masculinity on U.S. Television, January 11-13, 2017