Amid the debris and deals the outlines of a new business model are becoming clear. It relies on broadband and devices, not cable-packages, and overwhelmingly on subscriptions, not advertising. Unlike in search or social media, no firm in television and video streaming has more than a 20% market share by revenues. The contenders include Netflix, Disney, at&t-Time Warner, Comcast and smaller upstarts. Three tech firms are active, too—YouTube (owned by Alphabet), Amazon and Apple, although their collective market share is still small. The music industry is also contested, with the biggest firm, Spotify, having a 34% market share in America.
Disruption has created an economic windfall. Consider consumers, first. They have more to choose from at lower prices and can pick from a variety of streaming services that cost less than $15 each compared with $80 or more for a cable bundle. Last year 496 new shows were made, double the number in 2010. Quality has also risen, judged by the crop of Oscar and Emmy nominations for streamed shows and by the rising diversity of storytelling. Workers have done reasonably. The number of entertainment, media, arts and sports jobs in America has risen by 8% since 2008 and wages are up by a fifth. Investors, meanwhile, no longer enjoy abnormally fat profits, but those who backed the right firms have done well. A dollar invested in Viacom shares a decade ago is worth 95 cents today. For Netflix the figure is $37.