The venerable studio names we know today — Universal, Paramount, 20th Century Fox — began life in the early decades of the 20th Century not as studios but as theater chains. Those chains later created distribution operations to ensure an adequate supply of product for their screens. When that wasn’t enough, they got into producing movies themselves and relocated from East Coast to West. It was only after the Justice Department forced the companies to spin-off their theater chains in a series of antitrust actions that they became the studios we know today. The TV networks followed a similar trajectory, evolving from broadcasters to distributors and, eventually, to producing their own shows after the government did away with the rules barring them from owning their own show. Today, online video providers seem to be following that well-trod path. Netflix began licensing original shows last year, and now Amazon is getting into the game. YouTube last year committed $100 million to support new, original “channels” of web-original programming, and yesterday committed $200 million more to promoting them. Just like Hollywood.
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