Book Summary: Streaming, Sharing Stealing

Zen Liu
8 min readDec 22, 2019

The entertainment industry has been around since the dawn of human history. In medieval times, it can exist in the form of court jesters entertaining the court with jokes or gladiators battling each other to death in a colosseum. As civilisation progresses, entertainment develops into storytelling, drama, movies and grown more sophisticated over time. The advance in technology in the last century has even enable the industry to record and sell entertainment products at a scale unlike anything before. It is an incredibly fast-changing and brutal industry, where trends can make or break a company in a blink of an eye.

Image from

Having recently joined Rakuten Viki as a Product Manager, it became important for me to understand the industry so I can build the right product to help the business succeed. A long list of questions starts to form in my mind:

  • What are the economics of entertainment industry in the last century?
  • What are the revenue streams of a modern content studio?
  • Why is power concentrated in a few big studios/labels?
  • Why are broadcasters often content producer too?
  • How do modern studios identify and manage talented actors/actresses and directors?
  • How do modern studio distribute content?
  • Why do movie studios release different versions of a same movie at different time and format?
  • What is the impact of piracy on consumer and producer
  • and many more…

All these questions led me to “Streaming, Sharing Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment”. It provides a rich narration on the history of the entertainment industry in the last century and how/why things has worked previously. Furthermore, when it attempts to answer hard question like “What is the impact of piracy on consumer and producer”, its rigorous quantitative approach ensure insights are grounded by scientific methods which gave it credibility. In this article, I will be sharing key learning from this book and end it off with a list of questions as we usher in the new…

Zen Liu

Senior Product Manager