Superstar Exclusivity in Two-Sided Markets

Elias Carroni, Leonardo Madio, Shiva Shekhar

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paperOther research output


In most platform environments, the exclusive provision of premium content from leading creators (Superstars) is employed as a strategy to boost user participation and secure a competitive edge vis-à-vis rivals. In this article, we study the impact of Superstar exclusive content provision on platform competition and complementors' homing decisions. Two competing platforms facilitate interactions between consumers and suppliers, the latter of which are identified by the Superstar and a fringe of complementors (e.g., independent developers, amateurs). When platform competition is intense, more consumers affiliate with the platform favored by Superstar exclusivity. This mechanism is self-reinforcing as it generates an entry cascade of complementors, and some complementors singlehome on the favored platform. We find that the presence of cross-group externalities is key in shaping market outcomes. First, exclusivity benefits complementors and might make consumers better off when cross-group externalities are large enough. Second, contrary to common wisdom, vertical integration (platform-Superstar) may make exclusivity less likely than vertical separation under reasonable conditions. Finally, we discuss implications for the strategies of platform owners, managers of Superstars and complementors, and antitrust enforcers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages86
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • exclusivity
  • platforms
  • two-sided markets
  • vertical integration
  • network ex-ternalities


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