“Tech-Tonic” shifts: The U.S. and China Models of Online Screen Distribution

Stuart Cunningham, David Craig

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


The battle over online distribution of entertainment intellectual property (IP) is multilateral and multiplying. For the past decade, com-mentary has focused on the impact of new tech platforms and global streaming services (most notably Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix) dubbed “King Kongs” by Cunningham and Silver (2013, 4): “If content is king, then distribution is King Kong. The power and profitability in screen industries have always resided in distribution.” In 2019, these firms are facing increasing competition from all corners. The launch of Apple TV+ signals that company’s move from hardware, and content services and platforms, to its first pure-media play for online distribution. The Hollywood majors are poised to return serve against the tech rebels, infused with capital from acquisition by telecoms and through merg-ers. Disney, WarnerMedia, and Comcast have announced the launch of their own subscription platforms, heralded as walled gardens designed to extract full vertically integrated value from their studio-owned IP. Disney+ will provide long tail exploitation of their evergreen library that includes the expensive acquisitions of Pixar, Lucas, and Marvel. Sub-scription video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms are proliferating globally, like India’s Hotstar, supported by local telecoms. Even Africa has joined the fray, launching a suite of “homegrown Netflixes” (DTVE Reporter 2016; see Miller, this volume). As noted by a Hollywood executive, “the Great Streaming War is upon us” (de Moraes 2019).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe US and China models of online screen distribution
EditorsPaul McDonald, Courtney Donoghue, Timothy Havens
PublisherNYU Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781479806775, 9781479806782
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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