Jacobs has an international reputation as a historian of television drama, its institutions, technology and aesthetics. He has taught film and television studies at the University of East Anglia, the University of Warwick, and Griffith University. His first book, The Intimate Screen (Oxford University Press, 2000) is a pioneering study of early television drama; his second book Body Trauma TV (British Film Institute, 2003) explores the aesthetics of the hospital drama in relation to the contemporary cultural imagination. More recently he published Deadwood (Palgrave Macmillan/British Film Institute, 2012), as part of the BFI TV Classics series. He is currently working on an Australian Research Council funded project called 'The Persistence of Television: How the Medium Adapts to Survive in the Digital World', and is writing a book on David Milch, the author of Deadwood (Manchester University Press).