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Bringing in New Audiences

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This piece originally appeared on June 1, 2006, on the Convergence Culture Consortium from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Sam Ford blogs weekly there about soap operas in relation to fan cultures and innovative storytelling and marketing campaigns, in addition to blogging about many other new media issues updated multiple times daily.  You can visit his blog here.

A recent thread on the Dreamcaps Forums website is following the Luke Snyder gay coming out storyline from As the World Turns.

While the thread was started and maintained by a few ATWT fans who are also members of the gay community, following the message board's reaction to the show over several weeks shows how the storyline was able to draw non-fans in. Some of them mention that they don't watch the whole show but only the Luke scenes, but they are beginning to get familiar with much of the cast, as Luke interacts with 10 or so other characters on a regular basis.

The thread is a demonstration of how fan communities within a niche audience can begin to proselytze and recruit other members of their social group to watch the show as well. First of all, members of the online gay community may have never become aware of the ATWT storyline if they were not already fans of the show without the active posting of some fans of the show. Further, their continued updated discussions of the show, made friendly for newcomers, has brought several regular posters on the Dreamcaps site to become regular viewers of ATWT as well.

The discussion about the Luke storyline starts morphing into a dicussion of the distinctive elements of the soap opera genre and its emphasis on dialogue and slow-moving action paced out over several days with multiple storylines juggled simultaneously. Posters begin encourgaging each other to not just watch the Luke storyline but also check out other current stories as well. And the thread has now gone to 17 pages over the past few months as people continuously follow ATWT.

A great example of the power of the fan community, particularly when a show taps into a niche "surplus" audience that is not its primary demographic, which is women 18-49.

As I mentioned in post back in February, the Luke Snyder character also has his own blog, as the show attempts to extend into multiple storytelling platforms.

Thanks to Alex Chisholm with Interpublic for passing this along.

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