Engaging with Reality Television

Authored by: Annette Hill

The Routledge Companion to Global Television

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138724341
eBook ISBN: 9781315192468
Adobe ISBN:


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The argument of this chapter is that audience engagement with reality television tells us something about the multiple ways people connect or disconnect with television in the context of their everyday lives. Drawing on qualitative audience research of the global talent format MasterChef, the findings show audiences cognitively and affectively engage with this reality television series within the place and time of their local reception contexts. For reality television, there is not one type of audience, but rather people switch between different modes of engagement, performing the roles of viewers and users, fans, critics and participants; and there is not a general picture of a global audience but rather local and transnational audiences. Discourses of audience engagement in industry and academic contexts try to label people as one thing or another. But audiences are often performing several roles at the same time, highlighting the complex dynamics of engagement at work in entertainment television.

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