UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Next episode : the story of video streaming viewership in India Diwan, Sai Shreekant


This dissertation is an inquiry into viewership practices in India to demonstrate how watching video streaming media has added new layers into what being a viewer means. The digital video landscape is made up of a network of over-the-top (OTT) platforms showcasing texts and video sharing websites like YouTube hosting paratexts such as advertisements and trailers. In this study, I use these YouTube videos uploaded by the official channels of OTT platforms as the site of research. I study viewer comments on these videos to examine viewership practices and the concept of the “interactive viewer”. In four chapters, I explore the content, rationale, method, and temporality of OTT viewership in India. Chapter 1 demonstrates that OTT platforms use language as a tool to segment viewers into linguistically-determined target groups, and examines how viewers choose to define themselves. Chapter 2 shows that viewers craft their own viewership rationale at the intersection of desires and identity alignment. Chapter 3 delineates viewership methods and shows that digital viewership is informed by the transmediality of the internet. Chapter 4 uses viewer discussions about timing and duration to explore ideas of visibility and invisibility in digital viewership. Together, the chapters comment on how regional identity, choice of media languages, viewer location etc. shape digital viewership in India. Using the four prongs of analysis, I draw two conclusions about the interactive viewer. First, they function within a viewer network where choices and desires are informed by what others watch, do not watch and have access to. Second, digital viewers are self-reflexive because of the unique feature of seeing their own viewership in practice in their OTT profile watching history, OTT customized suggestions and YouTube comments. Interactivity is a core feature of digital viewership. Viewers care enough about their viewership to talk about it, argue for it and defend it. In this dissertation we listen in to understand what viewership means to viewers.

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