Lee McGuigan (2012) Consumers: The Commodity Product of Interactive Commercial Television, or, Is Dallas Smythe's Thesis More Germane than Ever? Journal of Communication Inquiry 36(4): 288-304.
This article tests Dallas Smythe’s thesis of the audience commodity against emergent marketing paradigms and commercial models organized around interactive television. Television technologies, including various internet-connected content delivery platforms, increasingly combine the technical and administrative infrastructure to support direct conversion of viewers into consumers of the products displayed in advertisements and programs. Through a broad reading of the audience commodity it is suggested herein that, contrary to most appraisals, Smythe recognized audiences as both economic products and social products—people living as producers and consumers in capitalism. Smythe’s thesis has particular currency in relation to an interactive television storefront because the essence of the audience commodity resides in the capacity of viewers to consume branded goods and services. This argument is ever more salient as ongoing developments in database marketing and electronic commerce illustrate that advertiser-supported television manufactures consumers as economic and social products within a nearly ubiquitous digitized marketplace.