Buy Portals (Amazon link)

Read Portals (open access link)

Is Netflix television?

Television audiences and its industry alike have been confused by the emergence of new ways to watch television. On one hand, the programs seem every bit like the television we’ve long known, while the way we can watch, what we can watch, and the business models supporting them differ significantly.

Portals: A Treatise on Internet-Distributed Television pushes understandings of the business of television to keep pace with the considerable technological change of the last decade. It explains why shows such as Orange is the New Black or Transparent are indeed television despite coming to screens over internet connection and in exchange for a monthly fee. It explores how internet-distributed television is able to do new things – particularly allow different people to watch different shows chosen from a library of possibilities. This technological ability consequently allows new audience behaviors and new norms in making television.

Portals are the “channels” of internet-distributed television, and Portals identifies how the task of curating a library of shows differs from channels’ task of building a schedule. It explores the business model—subscriber funding—that supports many portals, and identifies the key differences from advertiser or direct purchase that require development of a model of subscriber-funded media. Portals considers what we know about the future of television, even though we remain early in a process of transformative change.


"If you’re confused about internet-distributed television (and lots of students and researchers are), Amanda Lotz’s superb little book will set you right. It offers a lucid and convincing way of understanding the growth of subscription services and their implications for audiences and creatives. It also confirms what many already knew - that Lotz is a world-leading analyst of television and the media industries."
David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds

“Nobody knows more about the history and future of the U.S. television industries than Amanda Lotz. Razor-sharp and highly readable, her new book Portals: A Treatise on Internet-Distributed Television takes us deep into business of streaming and its underlying technological, industrial and cultural foundations. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the way TV and digital media are co-evolving -- and what this means for the rest of us.” 
Ramon Lobato, author of Shadow Economies of Cinema and Senior Research Fellow, RMIT University, Melbourne

“With Portals, Amanda Lotz digs through the layers of industry jargon, cultural debates, and changing technologies to provide what all of us who work in and around the television industries most need—a clear, logical, and concise foundation for understanding the various business and cultural shifts that have occurred around the rise of internet-distributed television. This treatise makes distinct various models of internet-distributed TV that often get bundled together in industry and popular discussion. It explores the core business and audience-relationship model that is in operation with the subscription model. And it convincingly argues that many aspects of the emerging models of internet-distributed television were driven by business and cultural factors at play well before the technological shifts caused by expanded broadband internet capacity. Whether you’re an academic looking to make sense of this fast-changing television landscape, a professional in the media industries working in the midst of this changing terrain, a student or young professional looking to go into the media industries, or an interested viewer trying to make sense of the changing landscape of your viewing choices, Portals will give you a grounded understanding of today’s television industry terrain.”
Sam Ford, VP at Fusion and Head of Fusion Media Group’s Center for Innovation and Engagement

  • Paperback, 108 pgs
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Library (January 17, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607854007
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607854005