This article considers the myriad ways in which the TV audience that has emerged in an age of media convergence is constructed across three discursive worlds in Russia: that of market research, popular magazines and academic publications. The central question that underpins the article is how the ideal audience is conceptualised and whether new media have caused shifts in that construct. An analysis of this kind unpacks intrinsic biases and value systems in approaches to the audience, which in turn determine the extent to which digital fandoms and active audiences become a major area of scholarly focus. Coupled with a historical survey of ideas of the ideal spectator in Russia and concluding with a set of questions that underscore the importance of studies of the active audience on new media platforms, this article also serves as a segue to the case-studies that follow in this special issue.

Language of contribution: English

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