Control Freaks

Studios and networks will strain to retain cable viewers but can't deny want-it-now streamers

Photograph by Alexander Ho for TIME

Hollywood has long specialized in artfully managed, highly profitable scarcity. A new film debuts in theaters. Months later, it arrives on DVD, Blu-ray and pay-per-view. Next, on premium channels like Showtime. When the flick finally gets sliced to smithereens on some basic-cable station, you know that pretty much every last nickel has been squeezed out of it.

Reinventing this time-tested business model for the Internet age hasn't been easy. Increasingly, consumers want to watch whatever they want whenever and wherever they choose, on an array of gadgets--TVs, PCs, smart phones and tablets. Studios and networks are working to make that happen,...

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