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Going Over the Top: Online Television Distribution as Sociotechnical System


Corresponding author: Joshua Braun; e-mail:


This article examines emerging tensions surrounding the way television content is distributed online, introduces several of the increasingly diverse players in this field, and attempts to cultivate theoretical contributions from outside the standard communication literature as a means of capturing additional nuances of evolving television distribution practices. Specifically, I have chosen to chronicle the period between 2007 and 2009 in the development of two successful television startups whose visions for online distribution were frequently at odds. The first of these is the popular online television portal, Hulu, owned by a number of the United States' largest media companies. The second is Boxee, a startup producing software that today runs a variety of Internet-connected set-top boxes for televisions.