Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Module 5: Widespread Movie Access

Growing up if I wanted to see a movie, my parents had to take me to the movie theater, rent or buy the movie. Today movies can be accessed almost anywhere. Mobile devices, computers, gas stations, grocery stores, on demand, libraries and devoted rental stores are just a few of the places where once can access movies. My personal favorite way to access movies tends to be through cable on demand. Renting movies on demand does not require me to travel to a specific place to retrieve and return the movie. I am able to access it conveniently in my own home and not worry about due dates or managing a toddler as I am trying to check out a movie. If I was a more avid movie watcher, I am sure I would love the convenience and features of Netflix. Though it is hard to beat RedBox’s prices for rental, however fees can add up due to failure to return movie by the given deadline. Consumers and movie watchers have plenty of choices and can even access a limited number of titles for free through the internet.
What force of emerging technologies is behind the competitive movie market? Is it increasing returns that are influencing the widespread access to movies or is it a case of the Red Queens? Increasing returns are summarized as two innovations that emerge around the same time with only one remaining successful as it causes the other to become extinct (Thornburg, 2008). This does not appear to be the case with movies. Some rental stores have closed recently, but others still thrive. Blockbuster is still a heavy contender in the competition over consumer’s movie purchases by creating their own version of the Red Box. Not everyone has access to the convenience of video on demand, something I recently experienced after moving and not having established cable service in my new residence. However, I can just go down the street to rent a movie for my son if desired. My recent move gave me different perspective in how and why people would access movies in different ways. Red Queens are defined by intense competition between two different technologies. The competition leads to other competitors being left behind. One could argue that Netflix and Red Box are fighting fiercly to be the Red Queens of the movie world. However, video on demand services provided through companies such as Cox Communications are still in the fight. As the fight continues the services and type of technology begins to evolve and change. Netflix, originally founded in 1999 (Anderson, 2004), was primarily a mail order business. Now Netflix can be streamed through devices like the Roku as well as your computer. Their service plans have changed to be more competitive. The fight is still on and people everywhere are able to benefit from the widespread access of movies.


 Anderson, C. (2004). Chris Anderson of Wired on tech’s long tail [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_of_wired_on_tech_s_long_tail.html

Thornburg, D. (2008). Red Queens, butterflies, and strange attractors: Imperfect lenses into emergent technologies. Lake Barrington, IL: Thornburg Center for Space Exploration.

Thornburg, D. D. (2009). Increasing returns. [Vodcast]. Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=4199715&Survey=1&47=5797856&ClientNodeID=984645&coursenav=1&bhcp=1

Thornburg, D. D. (2009). Red queens. [Vodcast]. Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from


  1. Laura,

    Great blog post. I love to watch movies, however, unless it is a Disney movie for my kids or a Laureate Education,Inc. production it doesn't seem like I get to see too many movies these days. However, when I do watch movies I also prefer video on demand. I live in a Comcast region of the country and I am able to stream high definition movies for an affordable price (5-7 dollars) as you said in the comfort of my own home. I agree with your assessment of the red queen force being more applicable to the movie rental industry than the idea of increasing returns. I would argue that the competition is between (or in the very near future will be) video on demand services from cable providers and the streaming capabilities of companies such as Netflix. Would you agree?

  2. Interesting post. Ditto for Red Queen. I still favor DVDs, I can play them at my leasure, due to their small and compact size, I can easy store them.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Sarah D.