Call for Papers: Innovative Methods for Video-on-Demand Research

An international workshop at Utrecht University (12 September 2024), organized by Karin van Es (Utrecht University) and Ramon Lobato (RMIT University).

Video-on-demand services

Video-on-demand services (VODs) are often assumed by researchers to be black boxes, impenetrable to academic inquiry. Data on catalogs, audiences, and usage can be challenging to source and may be commercially protected, leading to concerns about transparency and access (Wayne 2022). Nonetheless, in recent years researchers have found many innovative workarounds to investigate VODs, publishing important studies of VOD libraries, recommendations, promotion, and use.

A scattered but vibrant field

This scattered but vibrant field of empirical VOD research now spans television and screen studies, media industry studies, platform studies, law, economics, computer science, and policy research. We see for instance advances in catalog research (Grece 2018), distant readings of VOD interfaces (Kelly 2021), reverse engineering of algorithms (Pakovic 2022), logging user interactions through browser extensions (Castro et al. 2021), and quantitative analysis of proprietary data sets from third-parties (Lotz et al. 2022).

Such research is valuable for scholarly debate because it allows us, in the absence of industry disclosure, to better understand trends in production, distribution and consumption of content; and from a policy perspective, it is also vital to establish if local content quotas and requirements for prominence/visibility are being met.

Topics of interest

Topics of interest within VOD research include:

  • What makes up the library of a VOD?
  • How do libraries differ between services and across space and time?
  • How is content circulated? (interfaces, recommendations and promotion)
  • What do we know about usage of different VODs?
  • How is usage shaped by promotion and discoverability within the interface?
  • What VOD content is popular/culturally significant?
  • How are data used by VODs for producing and distributing content?
  • What can VOD research contribute to public policy debates?

Call for papers

We invite papers that propose, modify, elaborate, demonstrate or reflect on innovative methods for studying VODs, including empirical methods for data collection and/or critical and interpretive methods for data analysis. Our focus is on research methods for subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) and broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) services, rather than on social video platforms such as YouTube and Tiktok.

Submission details

Abstracts of 500 words are due by 1 May 2024 along with a 100-word bio and should be sent to Karin van Es ( and Ramon Lobato ( Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 1 June, and accepted authors will be invited to submit extended abstracts of 2,000 words by 5 September. The workshop will be held on 12 September at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. A special journal issue is planned following the workshop.