Engagement in Online TV Serial Brand Communities: An Exploratory Case Study Surrounding the TV Serial Riverdale

Dora Katana-Martic & Joyce van Leuven

Student thesis: Master thesis


The rise of Web 2.0 has had a significant impact on the way in which television is consumed, with a move from traditional consumption to television on-demand. In order to keep up with the competition, the industry has increasingly become focused on the branding of individual programs, rather than channels. Additionally, the development in internet technologies and increased popularity of social media has also created new ways of engaging audiences with program brands. In particular, television serials, which due to their nature require active audience engagement, are suitable for further online engagement. In thesis, we explore how audiences engage within online communities as the result of the characteristics of serialized television content. This is done by considering existing research on television serials, online communities, branding, and brand communities in order to conceptualize a distinct type of online community: an online TV serial brand community. These notions construct the main research question: “How do members engage within the online TV serial brand community “Riverdale (TV Series)” as a result of the characteristics of serialized television content?”. In order to answer this research question, an exploratory qualitative case study has been conducted with the aim of further conceptualizing the online TV serial brand community, as well as defining the engagement of the members in such a community. The research is divided into three sections: an extensive review of the existing literature, a netnography study, and an online survey to gather member feedback. The motivators for joining, the different elements of, the engagement in, and the outcomes of membership of, online TV serial brand communities are explored. The main findings of this study indicate that the three distinct characteristics of serialized television content, namely: narrative complexity, the emergence of parasocial relationships, and shipping have an effect on the engagement in the community. This engagement focuses around reducing uncertainties that are inherent to television serials. This type of online community provides a platform for discussion and co-developing, and results in increased brand trust and commitment.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages177
SupervisorsLiana Razmerita