Andrei Hagiu and Robin S. Lee

We model competition between content distributors (platforms) for content providers, and show that whether or not content is exclusive or “multihomes” depends crucially on whether or not content providers maintain control over their own pricing to consumers: if content providers sell their content outright and relinquish control, they will tend to be exclusive; on the other hand, if content providers maintain control and only “affiliate” with platforms, then multihoming is sustainable in equilibrium. We show that the outcome under affiliation depends on the tradeoff between platform rent extraction (which increases in exclusivity) and content rent extraction (which increases in multihoming), and demonstrate that the propensity for exclusivity can be increasing, decreasing, or even nonmonotonic in content quality. Finally, if a content provider internalizes the effect of its own price on platform demand, we prove that a platform that already has exclusive access to content may prefer to relinquish control over content pricing to the content provider in order to reduce price competition at the platform level.