*How have media researchers changed the ways in which the audience is perceived over time?*How have audiences become fragmented in the search for ratings?*What next for audience research in the 21st century?The study of 'audience' is a central concept in both media and cultural studies. Although it has become an academic fashion to turn away from imagining that groups of people can share common purpose or interests, there are still reasons enough for wanting to explore the way in which audiences behave, understand and interact with media texts in all their various forms, not least because of the vast sums of money which are persistently expended by advertisers and broadcasters trying to give 'the audience' what 'it' wants and therefore maintaining or preferably increasing market share. This Reader provides an opportunity to bring together some of the important developments in the history of audience and media studies and the significant research trajectories which have shaped the field until now. It is sometimes difficult to locate specific examples of audience research or discussions of research practice, as opposed to description, conjecture or critical reflection about audiences, which are in abundant supply: the Reader allows students and lecturers to source original research commentaries and better understand the rationale, findings and forms of analysis undertaken at different points in the field's research-based career.