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UCLA Entertainment Law Review

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The Streaming Wars+: An Analysis of Anticompetitive Business Practices in Streaming Business

  • Author(s): Pakula, Olivia
  • et al.
Abstract

The recent rise of streaming platforms currently benefits consumers with quality content offerings at free or at relatively low cost.  However, as these companies’ market power expands through vertical integration, current antitrust laws may be insufficient to protect consumers from potential longterm harms, such as increased prices, lower quality and variety of content, or erosion of data privacy.  It is paramount to determining whether streaming services engage in anticompetitive business practices to protect both competition and consumers.

Though streaming companies do not violate existing antitrust laws because consumers are not presently harmed, this Comment thus explores whether streaming companies are engaging in aggressive business practices with the potential to harm consumers.  The oligopolistic streaming industry is combined with enormous barriers to entry, practices of predatory pricing, imperfect price discrimination, bundling, disfavoring of competitors on their platforms, huge talent buyouts, and nontransparent use of consumer data, which may be reason for concern.  This Comment will examine the history of the entertainment industry and antitrust laws to discern where the current business practices of the streaming companies fit into the antitrust analysis.  This Comment then considers potential solutions to antitrust concerns such as increasing enforcement, reforming the consumer welfare standard, public utility regulation, prophylactic bans on vertical integration, divestiture, and fines.

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