The Age of Audience Participation: Transmediality in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch


From Big Brother to American Idol and Survivor, participatory television transformed audiences in the early 2000s. The integration of the internet and mobile devices shaped the evolving landscape of transmedia audiences (Evans, 2011, p. 65) and disrupted the traditional flow of television (Williams et al., 2003, p. 86). An audience’s ability to vote for reality television contestants or tweet back at a show in real time lends to the lived experience of liveness. The 2018 film, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, provides a fully immersive audience experience, whereby viewers determine the show outcome by selecting answers to questions that pop up at various touchpoints in the film. The participatory nature of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch completely re-wires the flow of not only traditional cable television, but also digital television, providing Netflix with additional data on audience choices and patterns.

Using transmedia theory (Evans, 2011; Fast et al., 2019), this paper will examine the shifting media environment in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’s as well as the interactivity of audiences in content and fan-based discussion boards. Content analysis will be used to examine the media environment and audience engagement on fan discussion forum sites like PrimeTimer, Home Theatre Forum, Tivo Community Forum, and Reddit. The transmedia audience of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is connected through networks that are a “mesh of interconnections” (Livingstone and Sefton-Green, 2016, p. 61; See also: Ito, 2007; Ito, 2009; Livingstone, 2009), participatory (Jenkins, 2019), highly literate (Buckingham, 2007), and fully invested in the immersive storytelling experience.


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