There’s been a lot of discussion lately about how Netflix is in the process of moving from a DVD distribution company to primarily a streaming service. The question, though, is how close this future truly is.In order to assess their progress, I decided to look at how many of the 2010 top box office earners were on the service. Figuring that we also needed a yardstick to compare Netflix offerings against, I took the top three online streaming services and got the data for each of them (generally speaking, rentals are around $3.99 to $4.99 and purchases seem to be around $14.99).
First, I pulled up the Box Office data and then put each title in the search engine for each of the services. I also looked up DVD availability from both Amazon and Netflix to ensure we had a yardstick we could measure against in terms of online vs. offline availability of titles. The assumption here was that some box office hit might not be available in either form due to the fact that they were recently released. I also made a decision to reject titles that are available on a pre-order basis as it is not yet possible to watch them. For future reference, all this data was pulled together the third week of January 2011.
2010: Box Office Winners availability
Once I did all this work I had a table for the 2010 box office numbers winners and it looked like this:
RankTitleNetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVD 1 Toy Story 3 No Rental only Yes Yes Yes 2 Alice in Wonderland Yes No Purchase only Purchase only Yes 3 Iron Man 2 No Yes Yes Yes Yes 4 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse No Yes Yes Yes Yes 5 Inception No Yes Yes Yes Yes 6 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 No No No No No 7 Despicable Me No Yes Yes Yes Yes 8 Shrek Forever After No Yes Yes Yes Yes 9 How to Train Your Dragon No Yes Yes Yes Yes 10 Tangled No No No No No 11 The Karate Kid No Yes Yes Yes Yes 12 Clash of the Titans No Purchase only No Yes Yes 13 Grown Ups No Yes Yes Yes Yes 14 Tron Legacy No No No No No 15 Megamind No No No No No 16 Little Fockers No No No No No 17 The Last Airbender No Yes Yes Yes Yes 18 True Grit No No No No No 19 Shutter Island Yes Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only Yes 20 The Other Guys No Yes Yes Yes Yes 21 Salt No Yes Yes Yes Yes 22 Jackass 3D No No No No No 23 Valentine’s Day No No No No Yes 24 Robin Hood No Yes Yes Yes Yes 25 The Expendables No Yes Yes Yes Yes 26 Due Date No No No No No 27 The Chronicle of Narnia:
Voyage of the Dawn Treader No No No No No 28 Date Night No Yes Yes Yes Yes 29 Sex and the City 2 No Yes Yes Yes Yes 30 The Social Network No Yes Purchase only Purchase only Yes 31 The Book of Eli No No No No Yes 32 The Town No Yes Yes Yes Yes 33 Prince of Persia:
The Sands of Time No Yes Yes Yes Yes 34 Red No No No No No 35 Percy Jackson & The Oplympians:
The Lightning Thief No No No No Yes 36 Paranormal Activity 2 No No No No Yes 37 Yogi Bear No No No No No 38 Eat Pray Love No Yes Yes Yes Yes 39 Unstoppable No No No No No 40 Dear John Yes Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only Yes 41 The A-team No Yes Yes Yes Yes 42 Knight & Day No Yes Yes Yes Yes 43 Black Swan No No No No No 44 Dinner for Schmucks No Yes Yes Yes Yes 45 The Fighter No No No No No 46 The Bounty Hunter Yes No No No Yes 47 The Tourist No No No No No 48 Diary of a Wimpy Kid No Yes Yes Yes Yes 49 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice No Rental only Yes Yes Yes 50 A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) No Yes Yes Yes Yes 51 The Last Song Yes No Purchase only Purchase only Yes 52 The Wolfman No No No No Yes 53 Get him to the Greek No Yes Yes Yes Yes 54 Resident Evil: Afterlife No Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only Yes 55 Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too No Yes Yes Yes Yes 56 Tooth Fairy No No No No Yes 57 Secretariat No No No No Yes 58 Easy A No Yes Yes Yes No 59 Takers No Yes Yes Yes Yes 60 Legend of the Guardians:
The Owls of Ga’hoole No Yes Yes Yes Yes 61 Life as We Know It No Yes No No No 62 Letters to Juliet No Yes Yes Yes Yes 63 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps No Yes Yes Yes Yes 64 Predators No Yes Yes Yes Yes 65 Hot Tub Time Machine No No Purchase only Purchase only Yes 66 Kick-arse No Purchase only Purchase only No Yes 67 The King’s Speech No No No No No 68 Killers No Yes Yes Yes Yes 69 Saw 3D No Yes No No Yes 70 Cop Out No No No No Yes 71 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore No Yes Yes Yes Yes 72 Edge of Darkness No No No No Yes 73 Death at a Funeral Yes Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only Yes 74 Step-Up 3D No Yes No No Yes 75 The Last Exorcism No Yes Yes Yes Yes 76 Legion Yes Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only Yes 77 The Crazies Yes No No No Yes 78 Gulliver’s Travels No No No No No 79 Burlesque No No No No No 80 For coloured Girls No No No No Yes 81 The Back-up Plan No Yes Yes Yes Yes 82 Vampires Suck No Yes Yes Yes Yes 83 The American No Yes Yes Yes Yes 84 Green Zone No No No No Yes 85 Marmaduke No Yes Yes Yes Yes 86 Devil No Yes Yes Yes Yes 87 Hereafter No No No No No 88 When in Rome Yes No Purchase only Purchase only Yes 89 Love and Other Drugs No No No No No 90 She’s Out of My League No No No No Yes 91 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World No Yes Yes Yes Yes 92 Charlie St. Cloud No Yes Yes Yes Yes 93 Morning Glory No No No No No 94 Daybreakers No Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only Yes 95 How Do You Know No No No No No 96 Nanny McPhee Returns No Yes Yes Yes Yes 97 The Switch No No No No No 98 Brooklyn’s Finest Yes No Purchase only No Yes 99 Machete No Yes Yes Yes Yes 100 Ramona and Beezus No Yes Yes Yes YesAggregate Rental data
When you tally it up, the rental chart looks as follows:
NetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVD Top 10 1 7 7 7 8 Top 25 2 14 14 14 17 top 50 4 25 25 25 34 Top 100 9 48 46 46 74The first thin one notices here is that Netflix seems to have a long way to go before having any claim to strength in that particular arena. With only 9 per cent of the top 100 2010 movies, Netflix seems to come on the short end of the stick when it comes to making streams of box office winners online. In a future post, I will examine whether this is because their strength is more in older titles than in recent ones but, as far as the data currently show, the subscription model offered by Netflix would probably have a hard time fighting with a premium cable TV movie channel.
The story gets more interesting when one starts looking at the Video on Demand data for services like Amazon on demand, iTunes, and Vudu. My selection of those particular services was largely due to the fact that they are available in systems that can connect to your television. For example Amazon is available on the Roku box, iTunes is available on AppleTV, and Vudu is available on the Boxee box.
What I consider to be the most striking finding in this is the relative consistency of offerings across the board. None of the VoD players seem to have any particular advantage over the other. All of them batted in the 45–50 per cent range, as far as the 2010 hits are concerned. By comparison, just under 75 per cent of the movies were available on DVD at the time I did this research, giving DVDs a 1/3rd advantage over VoD at this time. One can only hope that the trend will go to that gap closing over the next few years.
Another interesting point is the closing of the gap between DVD and Vod when it comes to availability of titles on an ownership basis:
AmazoniTunesVuduDVD Top 10 6 8 8 8 Top 25 15 16 17 18 top 50 27 29 30 35 Overall 56 60 57 75Here, the data seems to show increased availability of titles on an ownership basis as opposed to a rental one. The VoD services performed 10 per cent better on availability, coming much closer to the number of titles offered over DVD.
While Netflix has been heralded as the leader in online streaming, the reality on the ground is much more complex. The Netflix model is predicated on an all you can eat model but if what you want to eat is a movie that was in the top 100 at the box office last year, viewers are left with only crumbs. The rental model offered by other internet based streaming companies is more in line with the traditional video on demand offerings available on cable television and the data seems to highlight that Hollywood is more comfortable with that model than it is with the Netflix one. This could present a strategic challenge for Netflix as it tries to negotiate more streaming contracts.
While DVD is still the king of the roost, the gap between DVD and online streams is slowly closing. The list I’ve created here can serve as a baseline against data next year to assess whether more titles will be made available. There also appears to be a preference in the film industry towards making titles available for sale instead of rent. I believe that this may be a short-sighted view as rental models can generate more income over the long run. It will be fascinating to see how all this develops.
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