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With the emerging of digital technology in everyday’s life and its effects on rapidly growing media consumption, it is important to keep up with the constantly growing fandom’s and their participants needs on the market. As the member of the Doctor Who fandom, I am going to analyze the preferences and relationships among the fanbase, in order to grasp their consumption habits.
Just like any successful show, Doctor Who has developed its amount of followers and the fandom based on it is still continuing to grow. The show launched in 1963 and featured a time-travelling humanoid alien called a Time Lord that calls himself the Doctor and whose adventures are based on his travels through time and space with his human companions in a machine called the TARDIS - Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space (“An Unearthly Child”). Despite that BBC originally intended to air the show only till 1989, the fanbase seemed to keep growing in numbers even after years the show was closed and eventually it was re-launched in 2005. In 2007, the program was labeled by The Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running science-fiction television show, and that’s why the passion over “Doctor Who” is shared across generations of fans (“Longest Running TV Series”).
Fans of the Doctor Who Fandom often refer to themselves as “Whovians” or even nerds and the “nerdiest” ones eventually came out to the point where they took charge over the show. The current Doctor is played by a super fan actor Peter Capaldi. During his early years in 1970, he was one of the fans who authored stories in unofficial homemade magazines called the Doctor Who fanzines. These fanzines did not only support the fandom’s existence but also became a meeting point for fans to discuss and define the limits of the Doctor Who universe, which later on had a great influence on the original show. Because of the shows long term airing, many fans of the original series are nowadays the writers and producers of the re-launched Doctor.
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The Fandom’s Structures and Communication
The fandom structure is defined by the interests and activities shared with other people inside the subculture, which are commonly found in fan based groups or theme related clubs. The cultural influence of “Doctor Who” is spread widely and because of that, various clubs and societies have formed around the world, making the fanbase even more popular. Before the spreading of social networks, they only way to express yourself and to share theme related activities was to attend conventions and informal gatherings. Despite the fact that Doctor Who fans aren’t much different from the other media fandom’s fans, they risk being misunderstood in unrelated circles of interest.
Nowadays, when social network websites became the preferred form of communication, the fandom gained an unlimited source of potential new members, not determined by their location or by the clubs attainability. The DWSC – Doctor Who Society of Canada formed in 2011 and is represented as a social network for Whovians, focused on social interactions such as social gatherings, online community forums and commonality amongst fans. The usage of social networks spread the global following of fans among people with different backgrounds, additionally making it more accessible to share interests and thoughts among them.
Fandom Consumption Habits
Since the fandom is based on the TV show series, magazines and audio dramas, its consumption habits are mostly media related. Production focused on fandom’s consumers provides various opportunities for marketers to profit from serving customers needs and since the nowadays producers of the Doctor Who universe are the former members of the fandom, they gain access to form long-term symbiotic relationships.
The current show gathers over 7 million views at average, and the audience gives it the highest Appreciation Index amongst all drama shows on television, thus making it more interesting to the market analysis (“Rating Accumulator”). Like in most popular universes, Doctor Who consumers tend to be interested in purchasing theme-related content from the series, which variables from DVD’s, cosplay clothing, toys and gadgets to more unified products such as Sonic Screwdrivers and Vortex Manipulators. Nonetheless, as mentioned above, the line between consumers and creators of themed products is pretty much blurred, so it is common that the fandom is found of creating and consuming its self-produced products, such as fan fictions, fan art, video and audio related materials.
Considering the aforesaid, it is established that such mutual creation and consumption habits are crucial for the fandom and the franchise to prolong its further existence and financial success. The fandom’s history is a good example of how financial difficulties of a media product can be overcome by the major interest and contribution of the products consumers. Finally, it is overviewed that there is no need in cultivating market relationships, cause of the self-sufficient habits of consumers and product creators.
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