This week we were tasked to explain how the current competition between DVDs and video-on-demand is an example of increasing returns or Red Queens. In order to look at this more you have to know a little bit about Red Queens. It is indeed a reference to Alice in Wonderland and the Red Queen Race. The Red Queen says to Alice “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” (Wikipedia 2016) So, with Red Queen’s we are looking at technology to see if the intention of the technology is to move twice as fast to overstep the current market and land in a new environment for expansion.

Increasing returns is a little different. “Increasing returns refers to the notion that the greater the size of the network, the greater the advantage of each participant of the network (network effects).” (Definition 2016) So when we take a look at video-on-demand, DVD’s or streaming services we are looking traditionally at the aspect of increasing returns.

Why do I say this? Mostly because if you look at “Broad examples of increasing returns include an open source project (the more contributors, the better the product) and a proprietary communications device (the more users of the device, the more people with whom a user can communicate)” then you can see how this benifits streaming services. (Definition 2016) The more that services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu have expanded their user base the better it has been for all of the streaming video-on demand services.

It is only now that we are seeing these services try to Red Queen and outrun the current offerings with something new. For example, Hulu is trying to run doubly fast to become a live streaming service and move itself from just a streaming service and get into the market share that is currently being serviced by the slingtv device. (Kastrenakes 2016) Netflix is also questioning if they want to make videos available offline for their users. If you run too fast and expose your customers to something completely different that they weren’t ready for you can potentially alienate the customer base you gained due to increasing returns.

In looking at McLuhan’s tetrad and the four criteria, we can see streaming, video-on-demand and DVD’s go through expansions and changes. McLuhan’s tetrad asks the following:

What does the artifact enhance or intensity or make possible or accelerate?
What is pushed aside or obsolesced by the new “organ”?
What older, previously obsolesced ground is brought back and inheres in the new form?
What is the reversal potential of the new form?

  • Video on Demand intensified the possibility for streaming live media on the internet.
  • Because of this video on demand, it pushed dvd’s to the wayside because of the ease of obtaining a video on demand.
  • I’d say that pay per view is brought back in a new way thanks to video on demand. Not paying per viewing but paying for the ability to view and own.
  • Streaming and video on demand isn’t fully accepted yet, though it has a high usage. There is the possibility of cable network providers for reversing the trend and having it all be accessible through a network provider. There is enough of a divide still generationally of being ok with the decision of what to watch vs the cable company telling me when I can watch what I think I want to watch. Video on Demand, Streaming, and DVD’s involve direct choice in choosing what you want to view. For different generations, when forced to make that choice, not choosing also becomes an option. Meaning letting cable network programing guides choose what airs when or choosing to turn off the media.

As we continue on we have to think about how live streaming is going to affect these areas as well. Items like Facebook live, Periscope and Snapchat are potential services that are offered now that are going through the benefits of increased returns, it will be interesting to watch who (if any) Red Queen’s into the next step for this growing technology.

Definition: Increasing Returns – GROK Knowledge Base . (2016). Retrieved 9 May 2016, from

Kastrenakes, J. (2016). Hulu confirms plan to stream live TV next year. The Verge. Retrieved 9 May 2016, from

Red Queen’s race. (2016). Wikipedia. Retrieved 9 May 2016, from