Open TV

Innovation beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television

320 pages

0 illustrations

January, 2018

ISBN: 9781479815975



Add to Cart Available: 12/15/2017

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Aymar Jean Christian is an assistant professor at Northwestern University and Peabody Fellow. His work on television has been published in numerous journals, including The International Journal of Communication, Cinema Journal, and Continuum. He leads Open TV (beta), a platform for independent artists, whose partners have included the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and City of Chicago.

All books by Aymar Jean Christian

How the internet transformed television  
Before HBO’s hit show Insecure, Issa Rae’s comedy about being a nerdy black woman debuted as a YouTube web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, her response to the absence of diverse black characters on the small screen. Broad City, a feminist sitcom now on Comedy Central, originated as a web series on YouTube, developed directly out of funny women Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s real-life friendship. These unconventional stories took advantage of the freedom afforded outside the traditional television system: online.  
Open TV shows how we have left “the network era” far behind and entered the networked era, with the web opening up new possibilities for independent producers, entrepreneurs, and media audiences. Based on interviews with writers, producers, show-runners, and network executives, visits to festivals and award shows, and the experience of producing his own series, Aymar Jean Christian argues that the web brought innovation to television by opening up series development to new producers, fans, and sponsors that had previously been excluded. Online access to distribution provides creative freedom for indie producers, allows for more diverse storytelling from marginalized communities, and introduces new ways of releasing and awarding shows.  
Open TV is essential reading for anyone interested in the changing environment of television and how the internet can inspire alternatives to what’s on TV tonight.


  • "Media historian Michele Hilmes referred to the challenges with writing media histories as comparable to 'nailing mercury.' In that sense, Christian nailed it. In Open TV, Christian has articulated a history of scripted web series, a phenomenon that has advanced at a pace never witnessed in prior media history or, for that matter, media historiographies.... Christian’s research yields great merit in capturing how web series’ producers operate and have the agency to engage in more diverse representational strategies. This is a phenomena that marginalized audiences and critical scholars have been eager to witness." 

    Journal of Communication

  • "The focus of Open TV goes beyond the network era and examines the 'networked era' (open TV) and media distribution over the internet and other web protocols."


  • “Aymar Jean Christian shows us the need to reinvent television, a medium, he says, that has never fully represented the United States. Deeply engaged in the most pressing debates about the future of televisual and web culture, and written in sparkling prose, this book is chock full of inspiring stories of those working to make ‘open TV,’ this time, online, for all Americans.”

    —Stuart Cunningham, author of Hidden Innovation: Industry, Policy and the Creative Sector

  • "Christian’s account of networked television is thrilling, current, and deep.  He narrates a period when the story is up for grabs and even the 'postnetwork' era as we know it is on its way to becoming something else through the creativity and vitality of people old TV has left behind.  Using stories full of driven energy yet equally steeped in a scholar’s recognition of the nature of the industry, this is one of the most remarkable books in television studies in quite some time."

    —Lisa Henderson, author of Love and Money: Queers, Class, and Cultural Production