Special Offer: Try The Information for $10.

Art by Matt Vascellaro.
Over the Top: Part One
Facebook Google Media/Telecom

A Song of Carrier and Content

Photo: Art by Matt Vascellaro.

There’s a joke about the difference between tech and media that people in Hollywood have been telling in recent years.

A group of entertainment and tech bigwigs are holed up in a cabin during a snowstorm. The power is out and the Hollywood types are huddled together around a crackling fire. They look over to the other side of the house to the techies, who are also in a tight circle, deep in conversation—and freezing.

“Join us,” the agents and studio chiefs beckon. “We’ve got plenty of space by the fire.”

“No thanks,” they say through chattering teeth. “There’s a lot of wasted energy starting a fire. We’re working on a more elegant solution.”

Like most things in entertainment industry, the joke is in the telling. It’s also wrong.

The tech industry isn’t the side that’s shivering. It’s Hollywood.

Year after year, media companies’ old revenue models have been forced to reckon with newly empowered consumers. The shows consumers watch, the music they want and the discussions around them are taking place on platforms built outside Hollywood and by much more highly valued tech companies.

In many respects the conflict is nothing new. Media companies have confronted a changing landscape for decades. Hollywood loudly protested when the VCR was released and viewers could suddenly own, and distribute, physical copies of their products without permission.

Yet this current era and the foreseeable future is when Hollywood’s horse has left the barn. It’s the first time content creators and owners have finally lost control over their distribution model.

That loss of control is fueling fresh tension between tech and media, which the The Information will explore this week in an in-depth series of articles called “Over the Top.” The term refers to the “over-the-top” technologies disrupting legacy media distribution and the broader battles they’re fostering.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
Opinion Facebook
How to Curb Tech Executives’ Power
How to Curb Tech Executives’ Power
This is the month that net neutrality died. But maybe, if we strengthen other checks on the power of tech and telecom company executives, we don’t need to mourn its loss. I believe the inevitable outcome of the horrifying political violence on January 6 is that content noninterference will soon become a fringe position. With each new incident of violence, calls for deplatforming by...
Latest Briefs
 
Facebook to Integrate Reliance’s JioMart Into Whatsapp in India
Samsung Heir Sent Back to Prison in Bribery Case
Southeast Asia’s Grab Considers U.S. IPO This Year
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
How Blocking Trump Puts the Future of the Internet at Risk
Modest Proposals Policy Facebook
How Blocking Trump Puts the Future of the Internet at Risk
The move by social networks to deplatform President Trump last week was the right call. In reality, he left Facebook and Twitter no other choice.
The Information’s Return to the Office Tracker
Startups COVID-19
The Information’s Return to the Office Tracker
Of the companies most opposed to continuing remote work after the pandemic fades, Netflix stands out for the intensity of its stance.
Sequoia Buys Shares in Elusive Startup Zapier at Multibillion-Dollar Valuation
Exclusive
Sequoia Buys Shares in Elusive Startup Zapier at Multibillion-Dollar Valuation
Zapier isn’t a household name outside Silicon Valley, but the world’s top venture capitalists have long been trying to own a piece of the booming enterprise software firm.
Apple Plans Podcasting Subscription Service in Threat to Spotify
Exclusive Media/Telecom Entertainment
Apple Plans Podcasting Subscription Service in Threat to Spotify
Apple—long considered the sleeping giant in the podcast space—is waking up. The company, which runs the most widely used podcasting app in the industry, is discussing launching a new subscription service that would charge people to listen to podcasts, according to people familiar with the matter.
Snap Names New Content Leader in Push to Counter TikTok
Exclusive Media/Telecom Google
Snap Names New Content Leader in Push to Counter TikTok
Snap has promoted executive Ben Schwerin to be its new senior vice president of content and partnerships, a move that signals the company’s ambitions to compete more aggressively with TikTok and to cut more deals with media companies and app developers.
Meet the Former Googler Trying to Make VMware Cool to App Developers
The Big Interview Enterprise Cloud
Meet the Former Googler Trying to Make VMware Cool to App Developers
When Craig McLuckie was a product manager at Google several years ago, he helped create Kubernetes, software that later became a widely used open-source tool for managing some of the most demanding online applications.