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Evolution of Platforms

Evolution of Platforms

Evolution of platforms refers to the changing standards and expectations for broadcasting and media distribution.

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Amy Tomlinson Gayle
Amy Tomlinson Gayle edited on 22 Jun, 2021
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Evolution of Platforms

RefersEvolution of platforms refers to the changing standards and expectations for broadcasting and media distribution.

Article

From the introduction of television in the 1940s, the media distribution and broadcasting standards were relatively stable, until the introduction of video-on-demand (VOD) or television-on-demand (TVoD) and over-the-top (OTT) service providers changed the way people consumedchoose to consume media. This includes greater flexibility for the format of viewing, toand different or better quality of content provided by these services, they have changed the way consumers which havehas chosenled to view and consume media, with traditional or linear television losing ground to the new platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Disney Plus.

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Television began as a black-and-white medium whichthat built on the transmission methods demonstrated by radio, which offered a way to transmit information between two places without the use of a wire. By the end of World War II, radio was popular and most homes had a radio in them. At the same time, television was a new and emerging technology,; but, unlike radio, the early television sets were large and relatively expensive. And, evenEven though the first scheduled television service began in July of 1928, it was not until after the second World War, andwhen the technological advantages in manufacturing developed during the war drove the cost of television sets down, untilthat popularity increased. By 1962, 92 percent of homes in the United States owned a television as of 1962. And, thisThis made television one of the most important technological and cultural advancements of the 20th century from the mid-1950s on.

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Starting in 1928, NBC was the first broadcaster offering regular television programs in the United States. Through the 1930s, rival CBS joined and began broadcasting regular programming. And, inIn order to ensure that the broadcasters did not introduce new standards, requiringthat would require consumers to purchase different television sets for different broadcasters, both NBC and CBS used the broadcasting standard set by the FCC. This technical standard included a recommended 525-line system with an image rate of 30thirty frames per second. The early analog systems were later replaced by digital signals, which broadcast by binary code rather than varying radio waves.

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Often called the golden age of television, emerging in the 1950s, television had become widely available and the color television was emerging and available during the decade. This technology was based on an all electronic color transmission standard whichthat was developed by the National Television Standards Committee (NTSC), which was a group of companies with a financial interest in the development of a color television standard. This standard was in competition with a CBS-sponsored system, which initially won the support of the FCC, until 1953. In 1953, the FCC reversed its decision and approved the NTSC's RCA color system.

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Following the approval of a color standard, NBC made the first color broadcast in 1954. Besides the increasing popularity of television, and the emergence of color television, the 1950s also saw television broadcasterbroadcasters move away from adapted radio broadcasts to producing and offering content developedspecifically for the medium, including dramatic anthologies such as The U.S. Steel Hour in 1953 and Playhouse 90 in 1956.

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Broadcasters also began offering news programming with footage to accompany the coverage, rather than relying on newsreel companies as had been done previously. During this decade, advertisers often sponsored an entire program, until the expected length of those programs increased from 15 fifteen minutes, (adapted from radio broadcasts,) into athirty halfminutes; hour,this whichled to increased sponsorship costs and saw the introduction of multi-advertising breaks in a single program. As well, shows, such as Today orand The Tonight Show, began to be screened daily, rather than weekly, and further increased the cost of sponsorship.

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Cable television originally grew out of remote or mountainous areas where there was a need to enhance poor reception or regular television signals. The system used cable antennas erected on high points to connect homes to the towers and receive broadcast signals. By the 1950s, cable operators began to expand on the services and bring signals from distant cities, providing not just local services, but also offering consumers more extensive programming choices,. suchAreas that areas which traditionally only had a few channels, saw a growth to more than double the original offered channels. Further, cable often offered clearer reception and service, and soon viewers in urban areas wanted the service.

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This growth was seen as competition, and broadcasterbroadcasters petitioned the FCC to restrict it, which the FCC did by placing restriction on the ability of cable systems to import signals from distant stations,. andThis stalled the development of cable TV in major markets until the 1970s. In 1972, Home Box Office (HBO) launched. This had customers pay to access the channel and was the first successful pay cable service. HBO used satellites to distribute its programming to make it available throughout the United States, which gave it an advantage over microwave-distributed services, and sawled to an increase in the use of satellite for distribution.

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Following this was the 1984 Cable Act, which was passed to promote competition and deregulate the cable television industry, and established a national policy for the regulation of cable television.

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Following the 1984 Cable Act, there was a proliferation of transmission services, which saw,. byBy the 1990s, cable operators upgradeupgraded to higher capacity hybrid networks of fiber-optic and coaxial cable, whichthat were able to provide multichannel television service along with telephone, high-speed internet, and advanced digital video services. And, throughThrough lobbying efforts on the parts of broadcasters, the FCC decided to change the standard of television transmission for a digital broadcast transmission standard. The analog transmission had been subject to static and, distortion, and offered poorer picture quality when compared to other mediums. Whereas the digital transmission used binary code to translate TV, similar to computers, and required less frequency space while providing higher picture quality. As of 2009, the switch from analog to digital was completed.

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Digital video recorders (DVRs) created a sea of change in the way consumers were able to watch shows. Previous to the introduction of services such as TiVo, consumers were able to purchase satellite or cable television packages where time-changing channels were available. Time-changing allowed consumers to watch shows in a different time zone for some viewing flexibility. But the introduction of DVR allowed users to record shows to watch later and at their convenience. DVRs also offered consumers a chance to record not just new, but also older episodes of a favorite show. Advertisers also used DVRs to track which shows were being viewed and offered targeted ads for these shows, which raised concerns from consumer groups and lawmakers.

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DVRs grew in popularity, to the point that traditional broadcasters and cable providers included DVR systems in their products, removing the competition from third-party DVR services. At the While DVR grew in popularity, to the point that traditional broadcasters and cable providers included DVR systems in their products, removing the competition from third-party DVR services, the internet began to emerge as the new medium for entertainment, and created a major shift to the television industry. And thisThis brought the same difficulty and challenges to television that the internet brought to other industries, such as newspapers, magazines, the music industry, video rentals, and bookstores. One of the major changes the internet offered was the ability to pirate movies or television shows, which offered anyone with the interest and an internet connection a chance to watch, if illegally, anything they wanted at any time.

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The other major change, which signaled a coming change in the way media was consumed, was the emergence of two platforms: YouTube and Hulu. Both wereare media streaming services whichthat emerged around the same time, and; while different on the surface, both services pushed the industry in different ways.

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YouTube was created in 2005 by three PayPal engineers. The service was initially intended to be a social media platform for userusers to post video content on, and to be capable of allowing users to upload, share, and view content without restrictions. This ,in turn, saw users upload personal videos, television clips, music videos, and movie clips whichthat could be viewed worldwide. And, unlikeUnlike other services emerging around the time, such as Napster, YouTube navigated copyright infringement lawsuits by forming agreements with media corporations.

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Despite its start as a video sharing platform, YouTube has become a go-to entertainment website with video-on-demand rental services, offering live viewing of concerts and sporting events, and,. byBy 2010, YouTube was receiving 2 billion video views per day, and with a further 24 twenty-four hours of video uploaded every minute. Google had purchased YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion, predicting the site would be a part of the development of the internet and the entertainment industry.

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This has, in turn, allowed viewers around the world to view content on the site,site—with availableavailability in over 76seventy-six languages, and with local versions for 88eighty-eight countries, and reaching an estimated 96 percent of people on the internet, and surpassinginternet—surpassing the viewership of traditional television. The platform continues to offer user generated content,user-generated and original content, has created a profession for some users, and has become one of, if not the, most popular video distribution platformplatforms.

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As well, byBy 2007, in response to some of the copyright infringement complaints, and complaints from major broadcasters, YouTube introduced the "Content Verification Platform," which helped creators identify videos that infringed on copyrights and helped remove them. AndIn the same year, despite complaints from large media corporations, in the same year NBC used YouTube as a promotional tool to promote the company's coming broadcast lineup.

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In 2007, YouTube also launched the first mobile application of the site after Apple launched the first iPhone, further creating ana platform whichthat could be viewed anywhere and at any time. This is the same year YouTube launched it'sits first ads on videos, which are semi-transparent banner ads that pop up on the lower section of the video during videosvideo play and connectcannot be clicked away for a few seconds.

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During this year2007, YouTube partnerspartnered with CNN to hoshost a presidential debate whichthat featured questions submitted by user video. And it is the year the company developsdeveloped its "Partner Program," which allows creators on the platform to generate an income from ad revenue on their videos. This will allowallows users to turn video production on YouTube into a career and allows popular producers to earn a six-figure income within the year.

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And, arguablyArguably, this iswas a big year for YouTube, as the partnerships with media conglomerates validating thevalidated platformYouTube as an entertainment and news platform. As well, it setsset up the trajectory of the company for many years to come, and allows the company to exist in tandem with user content, but with the platform not relying on the users to develop the platform, as other platforms tried and failed to do.

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YouTube continued to develop services, such as the company's partnership with Vivendi, to launch Vevo, which was developed in response to complaints about piracy and unfair licensing terms for music videos on the platform. As part of the deal, Vevo distributed music videos on YouTube, which in turn led to Vevo's massive presence on the platform. And also turned the platform into a go-to platform to see artist'sartists' new music videos, and for artists to launch those videos.

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Furthermore, to compete with other emerging online services, YouTube launched its YouTube Live to allow users to stream live broadcasts and other content, including concerts, sports games, the royal wedding, and the Olympics. It has continued to be used as a place for news outlets to stream new stories and content. Around the same time, YouTube launched a video rental service, allowing users to compete with other video on demand platforms, such as Netflix and Hulu.

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And, afterAfter the popularity of some of the platformsplatform's services, YouTube createshas created themed spaces for these interests or services. This includes the development of YouTube Kids, which offeredis a family-friendly version of the platform whichthat filteredfilters content to ensure it wasis safe for minors. By 2020, this service attracted more than 8 million weekly users. And YouTube Gaming was launched as a way for gamers to livestream play sessions with a live audience which they can interact with in real time, and is meant to counter Twitch.

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Later, YouTube launched YouTube Red, a subscription service whichthat letlets customers watch videos and stream music without ads, and offeredoffers access to exclusive content. This was later renamed to YouTube Premium, which spun off the music streaming service to a separate service called YouTube Music. And, in 2017, YouTube launched YouTube TV, an on-demand streaming service launched in select markets. This proliferation of services and options has allowed YouTube to compete in most avenues of the entertainment and broadcasting services and to compete directly with television and be part of the change in the consumption of media.

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However, unlike YouTube, Hulu was dependent on the networks for its success, asbecause Hulu is only successful through the use syndicated programs was Hulu successful. And, as Hulu grew, networks became more concerned over threats the program had to the financial underpinning of cable TV, by reducing DVD sales and avoiding carriage fees. Broadcasters began to pull popular shows from the network. And, following more disputes, Hulu turned off support for Boxee, which was an over-the-top (OTT) service whichthat allowed users to watch Hulu on their television. Until, and after the shut down of support for Boxee, viewers were only able to watch Hulu on their computercomputers. And, duringDuring this time, cable networks began to offer streaming for free on their own websites to stop viewers from watching elsewhere, and generate additional advertising revenue. And thisThis began to affect the quality and quantity of advertisers Hulu was able to attract. As well, Hulu was unable to produce any compelling original content to convince consumers to move to their platform.

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By 2011, Hulu was short of revenue targets, and equity stakes in the company began to be sold by large share holdersshareholders. This saw Disney, by December 2017, take a 30 percent stake in Hulu. And, with Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox, increase Disney's holding a 60 percent interest in Hulu. But it took until May 2019 for Comcast to relinquish control of Hulu to Disney, and for the streaming service to become a division of Disney and with Comcast becoming a silent partner. This made Hulu a third component of the company's direct-to-consumer strategy, which complemented the company's sports streaming service ESPN plus, and the then-forthcoming Disney Plus.

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Disney's interest in the flagging streaming platform was not necessarily in Hulu's brand, but in the catalogue and rights whichthat were attached to the brand, as even under acquisition many of the agreements remainremained in place, and. thisThis allowed Disney to have a catalogue of their classic movies, but also a home for more adult content to keep Disney Plus a more family-friendly streaming service. However, outside of the United States, some of the content on Hulu found its way to Disney Plus, and the adult content that Disney did not put on the Disney Plus platform in the United States, is on the platform in other regions.

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And, dueDue in part to the limitations of the streaming agreements with Hulu, Disney restructured the company to move Hulu's Scripted Originals team under Walt Disney, meaning the team reported to the chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment. And, as of November 2019, FX and Fox Searchlight supplied Hulu with content. This ended with Disney in 2020, eliminating the role of Hulu CEO, and integratedintegrating Hulu into the Disney business model as the company continued to reorganize the business with a greater focus on streaming.

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While not directly comparable, in that Disney Plus was able to launch with Disney's catalogue of classic children's movies and content from the Marvel and Star Wars franchises, while Quibi focused on developing original content specifically for the platform,. bothBoth launched around the same time and needed to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic early in their existence. And both handled the pandemic differently.

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For Quibi, the company was launching with the mobile-first, if not mobile-only, format for the platform intended not to compete with other VOD platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, or Disney Plus. Except around this time, services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus were adding to or announcing the upcoming ability to download select content to allow subscribers the opportunity to watch content on their mobile devices without data cost concerns, and competing directly with Quibi. Quibi saw their potential viewing audience not as a primetime viewers, but rather as those viewing content on-the-go between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,p.m. andThis had Quibi competing with the download capabilities and multi-platform capabilities of the other platforms, and competing with the viewership of YouTube or TikTok, both of which hadhave massive catalogues of user-generated content and, in the case of YouTube, a growing catalogue of original content.

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As far as content is concerned, the company was focused on three types of content. The first was movies broken into chapters,; the second was unscripted short-form series,; and the third was the company's "Daily Essentials," which were intended to cover news, sports, weather, and talk shows. The company's pre-launch plan was to launch with 175 original series and 8,500 episodes in the first year, with three hours of new content daily. As well, Quibi was expected to be spending up to $100,000 for every minute of content generated, whereas YouTube creators spend between $500 to $5,000 per minute. As well, Quibi tried to tie-intie in celebrities and related projects to create buzz around the upcoming streaming platform.

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However, Quibi came with a subscription cost, which was presented as low-cost, offeringlow-cost—offering a subscription for $4.99 per month with advertising, or $7.99 per month with no ads. However, compared to Disney Plus, which launched at $6.99 per month, and offered cost bundles with Hulu and ESPN Plus, and without advertising at that price, offered better value at launch, even without new content. And, Quibi offered a free-month, which, after the first few months, was found to have less than 10 percent of conversion, meaning in April 2020, the platform saw an estimated 910,000 users, but by the end of the trial period, there were an estimated 72,000 users paying for a subscription. Paired with a lack of features in the application, especially the lack of OTT or casting support at launch, and an inability to take screenshots or captures, the platformsplatform's rollout faltered.

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Although Disney was able to launch their streaming service with an anticipated $1.8 billion to keep the service afloat, which Quibi did not necessarily have, and despite the platformsplatform's comparable 11 percent conversion of early free trials, Disney Plus saw 9.5 million people sign up for the platform in the first three days of availability in the United States in Canada. ThisThese early subscription numbers were propelled in part onby the catalogue of classic Disney films, and also by the anticipation for The Mandalorian show, which offered original content on launch that was exclusive to the platform.

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And eightEight months after launch, based on Disney Plus''s continued expansion into new regions, and the announcement of new original and exclusive content, the company grew to 50 million subscribers, which had been the platformsplatform's goal for 2025. This was in competition againstwith over 300 streaming options, including HBO Max, NBC Peacock, Quibi, and Apple TV. AndThe itsurge propelled Disney Plus into the company of Netflix and Amazon, where Netflix enjoyed 190 million subscribers and Amazon Prime had 112 million subscribers.

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Part of this success was also downdue to the wide availability of the streaming service, which was able to be viewed on all platforms with in-browser viewing and applications for iOS and Android available at launch, as well as support for the service on Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Android TV, PlayStation, Roku, Xbox, Amazon Fire TV devices, LG smart TVs, and Samsung Smart TVs, meaning. theThe wide OTT support allowed users of most widely available devices to access the platform, unlike Apple TV Plus, an original content streaming platform available, whichthat was originally only available on Apple devices. And the wide region availability has allowed users globally to sign up to the service.

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