Push, pull, rerun: Television reruns and streaming media.

Television and New Media.

Abstract: In scholarly and industry analyses of television’s expansion into online distribution, few have accounted for the specific negotiations required when old television content streams on new media. This article considers the economic consequences, viewer utility, and cultural position of television reruns as they expand from the pushed flows of legacy television to the pull contexts of digital streaming. The emergence of streaming outlets upsets conventions of off-network syndication yet introduces new licensing revenue to television markets, and streaming undermines the pleasures of familiar, passive entertainment offered by reruns. Reruns, as a concept, a cultural commodity, and as an archive of a televisual past and present, are reconfigured with the move toward streaming television. Internet distribution of television reruns provides a necessary case study to investigate the full scope of how streaming services are destabilizing the conventions of the US television industries.

Anne Gilbert