“This Title is no Longer Available”: Preserving Television in the Streaming Age

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This article examines several recent changes in the technological composition and market logics of television. It considers what these developments might mean for the medium’s preservational qualities and for our understanding of television history more broadly. By focusing on the growth of streaming, the increasing “datafication” of the TV industry, and the prominence of interfaces and catalogues, I demonstrate that the ephemerality of television is both intensifying and diversifying, creating a number of methodological challenges in the process. These developments are placed in a longer history of critical debates around the preservation of digital media and the prospect of a digital dark age (Kuny 1997) so that we might learn lessons from the past that can be applied to the preservational challenges of the present. The article concludes by proposing a number of practical steps so that future television historians might be better equipped to avoid a “scholarly dark age”.

Keywords: digital dark ages; subscription video-on-demand; interfaces; catalogues; subscription economy; preservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalTelevision & New Media
Early online date9 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jun 2020


  • digital dark ages
  • subscription video-on-demand
  • catalogues
  • subscription economy
  • preservation
  • media history
  • television

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