The intended audience of a media narrative is the target audience for which the product was originally made.
The producer is able to shape the media narrative using codes and conventions especially for the audience.
This knowledge of the audience may lead to a higher engagement with the product. The producer knows what the audience expects and can more easily meet these expectations.
Depending on when the original product was produced, the producer may also be able to control how the media product is consumed.
With film, even now generally the first intended audience will watch the narrative in a cinema where the producer has the most control over how it is consumed.
However this is now changing with some films going straight to video on demand services or streaming services with a big loss of control of how they are consumed.
This would have an impact in how those products are constructed to meet the wide variety of needs.
When reading the media narrative, the intended audience will hopefully be likely to read the product how the producer intended.
That all depends of course on the context of the production and their understanding of the product — which would be a lot more limited than present day audiences.
Present Day Audience
A present day audience is an audience that will consume the media narrative now.
The difference between the intended audience maybe a long time (over 100 years!) or could be very short — but the context of how these products are understood can shift dramatically either way.
In just a few months prior understandings, cultural contexts and personal understandings can shift dramatically.
Since the conventions of media change over time, a media product that was engaging to — and constructed by — an audience just a few years ago may not be engaging now.
Acting might seem over the top, The plot could seem to drag and the genre conventions could have changed.
This isn’t a surprise to a present day audience, but could be a barrier to older products. Some audiences find it difficult to watch black and white films or find older horror films not as scary as newer ones.
Present day audiences also have much broader options in terms of consumption.
Although some industries may try to control the distribution of older texts, generally it will never be shown in the same way than it was to the intended audience.
Present day audience prefer convenience. Some say that this convenience makes media products not as valuable, or more disposable than ever before. If you are streaming a film — you are more likely to be distracted by your phone or even turn off the film quicker if any of it becomes not as engaging as you would hope.
Present day audiences may have a variety of different readings of a film then the intended audience will.
This might be because the product is in a new context. It could be nominated for awards and be seen as more prestigious or be seen as a dud film and not to be taken seriously.
New information could have come out about the film, director or actors that create new readings of the text. Or the film could sit in a dramatically different ideological context which creates new readings of the film.