Power to the Platforms

  • Tom Evens
  • Karen Donders
Part of the Palgrave Global Media Policy and Business book series (GMPB)


This chapter aims to comprehend the distribution of power in the global television value chain. It centres on the organisation of the industry, identifies the key actors in the television industry and assesses the differing financial returns as an indication of structural power. Industrial upgrading strategies and the emergence of the content-service-distribution combination are discussed. It highlights the distribution of power in the value chain and suggests that power ultimately depends on the specific context. It emphasises the impact of policy frameworks on the governance and industry structures. The territorial structure is analysed, paying particular attention to cross-border SVOD services. Finally, the chapter elaborates on the shift from value chains to platforms; a shift that is changing the structure and the competitive dynamics of the television industry. Hulu is presented as a prime example of broadcasters working together to tackle future strategic challenges and defending their position.


  1. Afuah, A. (2014). Business model innovation. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Anthony, S. (2008, March 12). Have NBC and Fox forgotten enough to disrupt? Available at: (October 24, 2017).
  3. Armstrong, M. (2006). Competition in two-sided markets. RAND Journal of Economics, 37(3), 668–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bair, J. (2009). Global commodity chains: Genealogy and review. In J. Bair (Ed.), Frontiers of commodity chain research (pp. 1–34). Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Ballon, P., & Evens, T. (2014). The platformisation of the audiovisual industry. Paper presented at the World Media Economics and Management Conference, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Google Scholar
  6. Bergman, M., & Stennek, J. (2007). Competition in TV-distribution—A framework and applications to Sweden. Stockholm: Research Institute of Industrial Economics.Google Scholar
  7. Boston Consulting Group. (2016). The value of content. Available at:
  8. Chalaby, J. K. (Ed.). (2005). Transnational television worldwide: Towards a new media order. London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  9. Chalaby, J. K. (2016a). The format age: Television’s entertainment revolution. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  10. Chalaby, J. K. (2016b). Television and globalisation: The TV content global value chain. Journal of Communication, 66(1), 35–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen, D., & Waterman, D. (2007). Vertical ownership, program network carriage and tier positioning in cable television: An empirical study. Review of Industrial Organization, 30(3), 227–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cheredar, T. (2014, February 27). Hulu sells its ‘Hulu Japan’ service to Nippon TV. Available at: (October 22, 2017).
  13. Christophers, B. (2008). Television’s power relations in the transition to digital: The case of the United Kingdom. Television & New Media, 9(3), 239–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cunningham, S., & Silver, J. (2013). Screen distribution and the new King Kongs of the online world. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Daidj, N., & Jung, J. (2011). Strategies in the media industry: Towards the development of co-opetition practices? Journal of Media Business Studies, 8(4), 37–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davenport, T. H., & Beck, J. C. (2001). The attention economy. Understanding the new currency of business. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  17. Dolan, C., & Humphrey, J. (2004). Changing governance patterns in the trade in fresh vegetables between Africa and the United Kingdom. Environment and Planning, 36(3), 491–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dukes, A. J., Gal-Or, E., & Srinivasan, K. (2006). Channel bargaining with retailer asymmetry. Journal of Marketing Research, 43(1), 84–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eisenmann, T. R., Parker, G. G., & Van Alstyne, M. W. (2011). Platform envelopment. Strategic Management Journal, 32(12), 1270–1285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ernst & Young. (2015). Spotlight on profitable growth. Volume VIII Media & Entertainment. Available at:$FILE/EY-spotlight-on-profitable-growth-volume-VIII.pdf.
  21. Evans, D. S., & Schmalensee, R. (2009). Failure to launch: Critical mass in platform businesses. Review of Network Economics, 9(4), Article 1.Google Scholar
  22. Evens, T. (2013a). Platform leadership in online broadcasting markets. In M. Friedrichsen & W. Mühl-Benninghaus (Eds.), Handbook of social media management. Value chain and business models in changing media markets (pp. 477–491). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  23. Evens, T. (2013b). Power play in television. A political economy analysis of power balances in broadcasting markets. Ghent: University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Evens, T. (2014). Co-opetition of TV broadcasters in online video markets: A winning strategy? International Journal of Digital Television, 5(1), 61–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Evens, T. (2017). Sports viewership goes down: What’s up for television sports rights? International Journal of Digital Television, 8(2), 283–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Evens, T., & Donders, K. (2013). Broadcast market structures and retransmission payments: A European perspective. Media, Culture & Society, 35(4), 415–432.Google Scholar
  27. Evens, T., Lefever, K., Valcke, P., Schuurman, D., & De Marez, L. (2011). Access to premium content on mobile television platforms: The case of mobile sports. Telematics and Informatics, 28(1), 32–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fontaine, G., & Deirdre, K. (2016). Media ownership: Towards pan-European groups? Strasbourg: European Audiovisual Observatory.Google Scholar
  29. Gereffi, G. (1994). The organisation of buyer-driven global commodity chains: How U.S. retailers shape overseas production networks. In G. Gereffi & M. Korzeniewicz (Eds.), Commodity chains and global capitalism (pp. 95–122). Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  30. Gereffi, G. (1995). Contending paradigms for cross-regional comparison: Development strategies and commodity chains in East Asia and Latin America. In P. Smith (Ed.), Latin America in comparative perspective: New approaches to methods and analysis (pp. 33–58). Westport: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  31. Gereffi, G. (1999). International trade and industrial upgrading in the apparel commodity chain. Journal of International Economics, 48(1), 37–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gereffi, G., & Fernandez-Stark, K. (2011). Global value chain analysis: A primer. Available at:
  33. Gereffi, G., & Korzeniewicz, M. (Eds.). (1994). Commodity chains and global capitalism. Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  34. Gereffi, G., Humphrey, J., & Sturgeon, T. (2005). The governance of global value chains. Review of International Political Economy, 12(1), 78–104.Google Scholar
  35. Hagiu, A. (2008). Multi-sided platforms: From microfoundations to design and expansion strategies (Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 09-115). Available at:
  36. Hald, K. S., Cordón, C., & Vollmann, T. E. (2009). Towards an understanding of attraction in buyer-supplier relationships. Industrial Marketing Management, 38(8), 960–970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Helberger, N. (2007). Some critical reflections about access obligations under the European Communications framework. Communications & Strategies, 68(4), 191–202.Google Scholar
  38. Henten, A., & Godoe, H. (2010). Demand side economies of scope in bundled communication services. Info: The Journal of Policy, Regulation and Strategy for Telecommunications, Information and Media, 12(1), 26–38.Google Scholar
  39. Henten, A., & Tadayoni, R. (2008). The impact of the internet on media technology, platforms and innovation. In L. Küng, R. G. Picard, & R. Towse (Eds.), The internet and the mass media (pp. 45–64). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hesmondhalgh, D. (2013). The cultural industries (3rd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  41. Hoelck, K., & Ballon, P. (2015). Competitive dynamics in the ICT sector: Strategic decisions in platform ecosystems. Digiworld Economic Journal, 99(3), 51–70.Google Scholar
  42. Hoelck, K., & Ballon, P. (2016). Broadcasting in the internet age: Survival of the fittest. Paper presented at the World Media Economics and Management Conference, New York, US.Google Scholar
  43. Hopkins, T. K., & Wallerstein, I. (1986). Commodity chains in the world economy prior to 1800. Review, 10(1), 157–170.Google Scholar
  44. Humphrey, J., & Schmitz, H. (2001). Governance in global value chains. IDS Bulletin, 32(3), 19–29.Google Scholar
  45. Jarvenpaa, S. L., & Loebbecke, C. (2009). Strategic management implications of a consumer value perspective on Mobile TV. Journal of Information Technology, 24(2), 202–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kaplinsky, R., & Morris, M. (2002). A handbook for value chain research. Available at:
  47. Kowalkowski, C., Gebauer, H., Kamp, B., & Parry, G. (2016). Servitization and deservitization: Overview, concepts, and definitions. Industrial Marketing Management, 60, 4–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Küng, L. (2017). Strategic management in the media: Theory to practice. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  49. LeFebvre, R. (2017, October 11). Hulu makes it easier to find what’s on its live TV service. Available at: (October 25, 2017).
  50. Levy, A. (2016, October 27). Hulu is losing more money than it did last year. Available at: (October 25, 2017).
  51. Lotz, A. D. (2017). How “Game of Thrones” became TV’s first global blockbuster. Available at: (July 16, 2017).
  52. Low, P. (2013). The role of services in global value chains. Hong Kong: Fung Global Institute.Google Scholar
  53. Meza, S., & Sudhir, K. (2010). Do private labels increase retailer bargaining power? Quantitative Marketing and Economics, 8(3), 333–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Miège, B. (2011). Principal ongoing mutations of cultural and informational industries. In D. Winseck & D. Y. Jin (Eds.), The political economies of media. The transformation of the global media industries (pp. 51–65). London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  55. Mosco, V. (2009). The political economy of communication (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Otterson, J. (2017, September 17). Hulu carried to Emmys glory by eight wins for ‘Handmaid’s Tale’. Available at: (October 24, 2017).
  57. Parker, G. G., & Van Alstyne, M. W. (2005). Two-sided network effects: A theory of information product design. Management Science, 51(10), 1494–1504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Perez, S. (2017, September 19). Hulu’s new look and live TV service arrive on Roku. Available at: (October 25, 2017).
  59. Pfeffer, J., & Salancik, G. R. (1978). The external control of organizations: A resource dependence perspective. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  60. Porter, M. (1985). Competitive advantage. Creating and sustaining superior performance. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  61. Porter, M. (1996). What is strategy? Harvard Business Review, 40(6), 61–78.Google Scholar
  62. Prario, B. (2007). Mobile television in Italy: Value chains and business models of telecommunications operators. Journal of Media Business Studies, 4(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Raikes, R., Jensen, M. F., & Ponte, S. (2000). Global commodity chain analysis and the French filière approach: Comparison and critique. Economy and Society, 29(3), 390–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rochet, J.-C., & Tirole, J. (2003). Platform competition in two-sided markets. Journal of the European Economic Association, 1(4), 990–1029.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Rohn, U. (2004). Media companies and their strategies in foreign television markets. Instituts fur Rundfunkökonomie, Cologne. Available at:
  66. Schneeberger, A. (2017). Audiovisual services in Europe: Focus on services targeted at other countries. Strasbourg: European Audiovisual Observatory.Google Scholar
  67. Singer, M., & Donoso, P. (2008). Upstream or downstream in the value chain? Journal of Business Research, 61(6), 669–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Snyder, C. M. (2008). Countervailing power. The new Palgrave dictionary of economics. Available at:
  69. Spangler, T. (2016a, August 8). Hulu ends free streaming service. Available at: (October 22, 2017).
  70. Spangler, T. (2016b, August 3). Time Warner acquires 10% stake in Hulu for $583 million. Available at: (October 24, 2017).
  71. Steiner, R. L. (2004). The nature and benefits of national brands/private label competition. Review of Industrial Organization, 24(2), 105–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Sweney, M. (2017, January 5). Film and TV streaming and downloads overtake DVD sales for first time. The Guardian.Google Scholar
  73. Todreas, T. M. (1999). Value creation and branding in television’s digital age. Westport: Qorum Books.Google Scholar
  74. Tsotsis, A. (2011, January 8). Comcast-NBC merger: The Hulu rules. Available at: (October 24, 2017).
  75. Varian, H. R., Farrell, J., & Shapiro, C. (2004). The economics of information technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Winseck, D. (2011). The political economies of media and the transformation of the global media industries. In D. Winseck & D. Y. Jin (Eds.), The political economies of media. The transformation of the global media industries (pp. 3–48). London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.imec-mict, Department of Communication SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.imec-SMIT, Department of Communication SciencesFree University of BrusselsBrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations