Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2013


Tugrul Daim

Course Title

Management of Engineering and Technology

Course Number

ETM 520


Digital media -- Influence, Interactive multimedia


Current digital media distribution platforms continue their march towards streaming service-based infrastructures, delivering content to users when and where they want it: laptops, set top boxes, home entertainment systems, and the new ubiquity: mobile devices. This model was first demonstrated by utilizing the multicast backbone technology in the early 1990s and took the better part of a decade to make inroads in changing the way individuals consume broadcast, mainstream, and syndicated video media. It took the advent of streaming technology, high-speed internet adoption, and a willingness from content owners to license their treasured content with upstart streaming media platform companies. Digital music distribution showed consumers, content owners, and distribution channels what can happen when one player effectively creates a new, disruptive technology platform, i.e. Apple’s iTunes Music Store. Now content owners are afraid of a single distributor dictating the methods, prices, and channels by which their content reaches consumers. Today, streaming technology is making a play against the incumbent iTunes transactional model of Buy, Download, and Own digital distribution by providing varies models to consumers: integrated advertising-based, subscription-based, and traditional cable “packages” with integrated on-demand streaming, all of which retain no permanence or ownership for the end user. Content owners are treading carefully, trying to avoid the single, dominant point of distribution that Apple achieved in music distribution. The results of this are less optimal from both a market standpoint and especially the experience for consumers. Media companies frequently change the terms of their licenses, or drastically increasing their licensing costs, causing radical fluctuations in the long-term viability of the nascent distribution platforms. Consumers interact with this environment through complicated, multiparty subscriptions, multiple applications or web interfaces, umpteen logins, various bills, and a nebulous understanding and ability to sit down and watch premium content when and where they want it. The entire market is in its juvenile form, stretching, growing, and trying to find that balance of monetization and the critical mass of consumer adoption required to truly transform media consumption from the real-time, over-the-air broadcast format it has been since television’s inception, to a time-shifted, choose your own, content delivery system based around the internet as the delivery medium. In this paper we idealize the situation by analyzing the largest incumbents for each of the monetization models, provide input into their strength and weaknesses and finally analyze and postulate what we believe will the trends and concerns moving forward into this new digital media panacea.


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