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Big Tech

Analysis: Despite New Entrants, Netflix-CBS Deal Secures Spot At The Top

WASHINGTON, February 25, 2011 – Amazon’s new movie streaming service represents a first step into the market but it will be a while before it – or any other new entrant to the sector – challenges Nexflix at the top of the heap.

This week through its Prime subscription service, Amazon offered free streaming movies and television shows to its subscribers. Amazon will offer more than 5,000 movies and shows that subscribers can access through their computers, compatible Blu-ray players or set top boxes that Amazon has begun to feature on its website. This move represents Amazon’s entry into the new and unstructured online video market.

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WASHINGTON, February 25, 2011 – Amazon’s new movie streaming service represents a first step into the market but it will be a while before it – or any other new entrant to the sector – challenges Nexflix at the top of the heap.

This week through its Prime subscription service, Amazon offered free streaming movies and television shows to its subscribers. Amazon will offer more than 5,000 movies and shows that subscribers can access through their computers, compatible Blu-ray players or set top boxes that Amazon has begun to feature on its website. This move represents Amazon’s entry into the new and unstructured online video market.

Netflix, already a solid leader in the field, also stepped into a more prominent role this week with a new deal with network CBS. The deal, which is worth $200 million, will give Netflix users access current CBS hits as well as a substantial back catalog of classic CBS shows such as “Frasier,” “Cheers,”  and “Twin Peaks.”

These new deals leave Hulu – which made the initial mainstream foray into online video – with a large gap to make up. Hulu features content from  ABC, NBC, and Fox, but  has remained static since the launch of its premium site, Hulu Plus.  Nor does the company look to be building beyond some small additions since its beta in June. Hulu seems unable to build a larger catalog of shows, as its affiliated networks appear unwilling to license whole blocks of shows like those recently acquired by Netflix. Consumers have  also complained about the dearth of Hulu-compatible viewing devices, forcing them to watch shows primarily on their computers. The restriction on Hulu can be largely attributed to the networks, which have an incentive in the form of more advertising dollars to drive consumers to watch their shows on broadcast television rather than online.

Consumers also place a high priority on hardware and are more interested in watching television on their televisions through DVD, Blu-ray, or stand alone boxes, than they are on their computers. Netflix has been able to convince several manufacturers to build its service into their products. The result is beneficial to both parties as it makes the hardware more appealing and more versatile.  AppleTV, for example, provides a stand-alone player that enables rentals and downloads of video through the iTunes store, as well as a dedicated output to send content to users’ televisions. AppleTV also allows users to access the Netflix catalog, but if other providers want to compete they may need to similarly appeal to  hardware manufacturers to build in their service into devices.

This week’s announcements seem to show that Amazon, Apple, Hulu, and other potential providers have a long way to go if they are going to challenge Netflix’ lead in online video streaming. So far Netflix is the only company with the content, delivery system and current market share to be a complete player in the online video market. Amazon has a certain amount of hardware support, but its catalog is too small and lacks widespread availability. Hulu doesn’t have enough control over the content it provides to make it widely available on all devices other than people’s computers.

New players to the online video battle will find a high price of admission without strong content offerings to consumers. Netflix has found itself able to build not only a larger catalog, but also a more diverse one, encompassing Hollywood, television studios, and foreign production companies.  Market analysts agree that Netflix holds its sizable lead mostly due to its superior number of available titles and its already-entrenched mail subscription service.

“At this point,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson, “the only company generating enough revenue from subscription video to spend on an improving library without taking a significant hit to the bottom line is Netflix.”

 

Nate Hakken is a native of Washington, DC. As the son of two itinerant academics, Nate spent much of his childhood living in England and Scandinavia. He has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, as well as a J.D. from Vermont Law School, where he studied Internet and technology law. Nate is a jack-of-all-trades, having worked as a sound engineer, teacher, camp director, outdoor adventure guide, and medical researcher. Outside of work, he is an avid cyclist who competes across the Mid-Atlantic and has been known to play the guitar when asked nicely.

Big Tech

Big Tech Reforms Need Review of Cybersecurity to Ensure Capabilities Will Not Be Diminished, Event Hears

Despite their efforts to improve consumer competition and security, some argue Congress’s legislation could have unintended effects.

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Photo of John Negroponte courtesy Duke Univesity

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2022 – Experts warned Monday that antitrust legislation being considered to rein in Big Tech could exacerbate cybersecurity concerns that may jeopardize smaller players.

During a Foreign Policy panel hosted on Monday, American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Klon Kitchen said many startups are dependent on the underlying datasets, technologies, and code provided by large technology companies.

He argued that while giants like Microsoft can invest billions of dollars in cybersecurity, smaller companies simply do not have the capital necessary to invest in their own protocols. He called for legislation to have a “robust and honest” security review before it is adopted – reviews he argued are not currently taking place.

Though the panelists did not point specifically to any one bill that is particularly harmful, there are currently several high-profile bills aimed at reforming the tech industry.

One such bill that has been in the spotlight for several months is Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s, D-Minn., Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act of 2021, or S.3267. This bill would severely limit large tech companies from engaging in the acquisition of nascent competitors. The bill has been introduced in the Senate and has been read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

American companies targeted in a field with global players

Former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte also expressed concerns Monday about various antitrust legislation before Congress.

Maggie Lake and John Negroponte

“The various proposed bills out there generally only apply to a handful of United States companies, and in addition to that, they would not apply at all to foreign companies,” he said. “This is not a purely domestic market, although sometimes reading these laws, you would think that the drafters believe [that is the case].”

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Antitrust

FTC Commissioner Concerned About Antitrust Impact on Already Rising Consumer Prices

Noah Phillips said Tuesday he wants the commission to think about the impact of antitrust rules on rising prices.

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Screenshot of Federal Trade Commissioner Noah Phillips

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2022 – Rising inflation should be a primary concern for the Federal Trade Commission when considering antitrust regulations on Big Tech, said Commissioner Noah Phillips Tuesday.

When considering laws, “the important thing is what impact it has on the consumer,” said Phillips. “We need to continue to guard like a hawk against conduct and against laws that have the effect of raising prices for consumers.”

Current record highs in the inflation rate, which means money is becoming less valuable as products become more expensive, has meant Washington must become sensitive to further price increases that could come out of such antitrust legislation, the commissioner said.

Phillips did not comment on how such movies would mean higher prices, but that signals, such as theHouse Judiciary Committee’s antitrust report two years ago, that reign in Big Tech companies and bring back enforcement of laws could mean higher prices. He raised concerns that recent policies are prohibiting competition rather than facilitating it.

This follows recent concerns that the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, currently awaiting Senate floor consideration, will inhibit America’s global competitiveness by weakening major American companies, thus impairing the American economy. That legislation would prohibit platform owners from giving preference to their products against third-party products.

This act is one of many currently under consideration at Congress, including Ending Platform Monopolies Act and Platform Competition and Opportunity Act.

Small businesses have worried that by enacting some legislation targeting Big Tech, they would be impacted because they rely on such platforms for success.

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Big Tech

Small Business Owners Call for FTC, DOJ to Institute Antitrust Measures Against Big Tech

Small business owners vocalized concerns at a forum hosted by the FTC and the DoJ.

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Screenshot of FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2022 – Small business owners and employees urged the Federal Trade Commission last week to take further action against big tech company mergers that dominate their markets.

With Washington’s focus on scrutinizing potential mergers, small business members that appeared on a forum Thursday hosted by the FTC and Justice Department pushed for antitrust measures against market monopolization that they said undermines small business success. Jonathan Kanter, the assistant attorney general for the antitrust Division, called this a “new generation of digital giants.”

Saagar Enjeti, host of a media podcast, expressed his inability to participate in a truly free and open internet due to the influence of big tech companies, in which he said there has been a rash of misinformation on the coronavirus, the 2020 presidential election, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Bradley Tusk, a venture capitalist who invests in tech startups, said he wants the FTC to have “more scrutiny” on big tech mergers. “The FTC should aggressively do everything in its power to do the job itself,” said Tusk.

Erin Wade agreed for more scrutiny on monopolies in which DoorDash and UberEats compete. As a restaurant owner, she said delivery mega platforms are harming restaurant profits and disrupting their business via tactics including underpricing their delivery fees and “bund[ling] orders so badly it damages customer relations.

“Small businesses are central to the American economy and American democracy,” Wade said during the event, pushing for the FTC to place more scrutiny on big tech companies.

According to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan, as several digital platforms continue to control the market today, anti-trust agencies should do what they can to encourage competition and provide checks on these big tech companies.

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