Holding Their Own: How Line of Duty offers the BBC a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded mediascape
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractThe British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) hit television series Line of Duty (2012-present) is the envy of every UK broadcaster and international streaming service alike, attracting enormous audiences and near universal critical acclaim. A number of factors have contributed to the success of BBC television dramas and have helped the organisation garner large audiences and thus remain relevant to a modern audience bombarded by numerous viewing platforms, countless titles and ever-present distractions and competition from social media and podcasting. Whereas commercial television networks are motivated to commodify audiences up to, and sometimes beyond saturation, PSBs can take a more artistically focused approach that serves to benefit the programme and audience first which leads to a better product. Another key factor is the social aspect afforded by synchronous TV viewing by the audience and the ‘second screening’ that goes with this live practice (Doughty, 2012; Proulx, 2012). This allows audiences to interact online before, during and after live broadcasts thus connect viewers and create online virtual communities (Rheingold, 2000). This communal experience can have a social bonding (Putnam, 2000) effect and help build a loyal following week after week – a lost tradition in an age of series dumps and binge watching. The author argues that in the modern highly competitive mediascape the BBC must take note of the factors that have contributed to their past and recent successes and work to replicate these in their future programming strategies. The BBC must also go one step further however, and attract the younger generations of viewers who represent the future Television License Fee payers. Through textual analysis of successful television programmes including Lost (2000-2006), The Office (2005-2006), Bodyguard (2018) and Line of Duty (2012-present), among others, this paper draws on examples of historical successes to chart a path for the future of BBC Television drama programming.
CitationMcMahon, D. (2021). 'Holding Their Own: How Line of Duty offers the BBC a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded mediascape' [Presentation]. Television Histories in Development Conference, Hilversum, 30 September - 1 October.
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