Where the hits are streaming in 2011

A year ago, I looked at the availability of recent blockbuster hits in online stream and discovered some interesting patterns in online stream offerings. This year, I’m doing the same with the 2011 list of box office hits. The great news is that we appear to see some progress.

2011: Box Office Win­ners availability

For each movie of the top 100 movies at the box office, I pulled data on for streaming info on Netflix, Amazon on Demand, iTunes, and Vudu. I also pulled up availability of DVDs to use as a yardstick in terms of overall movie availability. The final chart looked like this:

RankMovie TitleNetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVD
1Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2NoYes YesYesYes
2Transformers: Dark of the MoonNoYes YesYesYes
3The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1NoNo NoNoYes
4The Hangover Part IINoYes YesYesYes
5Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesNoYes YesYesYes
6Fast FiveNoYes YesYesYes
7Cars 2NoYes YesYesYes
8ThorNoYes YesYesYes
9Rise of the Planet of the ApesNoYes YesYesYes
10Captain America: The First AvengerNoYes YesYesYes
11The HelpNoYes YesYesYes
12BridesmaidsNoYes YesYesYes
13Kung Fu Panda 2NoYes YesYesYes
14X-Men: First ClassNoYes YesYesYes
15Puss in BootsNoNo NoNoNo
16RioNoYes YesYesYes
17The SmurfsNoYes YesYesYes
18Mission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolNoNo NoNoNo
19Sherlock Holmes: A Game of ShadowsNoNo NoNoNo
20Super 8NoYes YesYesYes
21RangoNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
22Horrible BossesNoYes YesYesYes
23Green LanternNoYes YesYesYes
24HopNoNo NoNoNo
25Paranormal Activity 3NoNo NoNoNo
26Just Go With ItNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
27Bad TeacherNoYes YesYesYes
28Cowboys & AliensNoYes YesYesYes
29Gnomeo and JulietYesPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
30The Green HornetNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
31Alvin and the Chipmunks: ChipwreckedNoNo NoNoNo
32The Lion King (in 3D)NoPurchase only (non-3D)Purchase only (non-3D)Purchase onlyNo
33Real SteelNoNo Purchase onlyNoYes
34Crazy, Stupid, Love.NoYes YesYesYes
35The MuppetsNoNo NoNoNo
36Battle: Los AngelesNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
37ImmortalsNoNo NoNoNo
38ZookeeperNoYes YesYesYes
39LimitlessYesYes YesYesYes
40Tower HeistNoNo NoNoNo
41ContagionNoPurchase only YesYesYes
42MoneyballNoYes Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
43Justin Bieber: Never Say NeverYesPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
44Dolphin TaleNoYes YesYesYes
45Jack and JillNoNo NoNoNo
46No Strings AttachedYesPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyNo
47Mr. Popper’s PenguinsNoYes YesYesYes
48UnknownNoNo NoNoYes
49The Adjustment BureauNoNo NoNoNo
50Happy Feet TwoNoNo NoNoNo
51The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)NoNo NoNoNo
52Water for ElephantsNoYes YesYesYes
53The Lincoln LawyerNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
54Midnight in ParisNoYes YesYesYes
55Friends with BenefitsNoYes YesYesYes
56I Am Number FourNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
57Source CodeNoYes YesYesYes
58InsidiousYesPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
59Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy FamilyNoYes YesNoYes
60Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick RulesNoNo NoNoYes
61Footloose (2011)NoNo NoNoNo
62The Adventures of TintinNoNo NoNoNo
63HugoNoNo NoNoNo
64The DilemmaNoNo NoNoYes
65New Year’s EveNoNo NoNoNo
66Arthur ChristmasNoNo NoNoNo
67War HorseNoNo NoNoNo
68Hall PassNoNo NoNoYes
69We Bought a ZooNoNo NoNoNo
70Soul SurferNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
71Final Destination 5NoYes YesYesYes
72The Ides of MarchNoNo Purchase onlyYesYes
73The DescendantsNoNo NoNoNo
74HannaNoYes YesYesYes
75Something BorrowedNoYes YesYesYes
76Spy Kids: All the Time in the WorldNoYes YesYesYes
77Scream 4NoYes YesYesYes
78Big Mommas: Like Father, Like SonNoNo NoNoYes
79Red Riding HoodNoNo NoNoYes
80PaulNoYes YesYesYes
81The RoommateNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
82Jumping the BroomNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
83The Change-UpNoYes YesNoYes
8430 Minutes or LessNoYes YesYesYes
85In TimeNoNo NoNoNo
86ColombianaNoYes YesYesYes
87J. EdgarNoNo NoNoNo
88Sucker PunchNoNo NoNoYes
89Larry CrowneNoYes YesYesYes
9050/50NoNo NoNoYes
91Drive (2011)NoNo NoNoYes
92A Very Harold & Kumar 3D ChristmasNoNo NoNoNo
93CourageousNoPurchase only NoYesYes
94The RiteNoNo NoNoYes
95Arthur (2011)NoNo NoNoYes
96The DebtNoYes YesYesYes
97PriestNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
98The MechanicNoYes YesYesYes
99AbductionNoYes YesYesYes
100BeastlyNoYes YesPurchase onlyYes

But the information, in a raw form, doesn’t really tell us much. To get a better sense of where we are, we need to re-aggregate the info.

Aggregate rental data

Looking at the rental market, we can now see the aggregation providing us a clearer picture

Top 1007777
Top 25016161619
top 50425252535
Top 100545444474

The data shows that Netflix appears to be missing the Flix part of its name when it comes to streaming, as it offers only 5 of the top 100 box office winners of 2011. By comparison, pay-per-view seems to be doing a better job at making top hits available for streaming, with the numbers declining as you go deeper into the list. So top movies seem to be widely available this year (in fact, 64 percent of the top 25 movies were available for streaming only 9% short of what’s available on more traditional formats like DVD).

Another interesting thing to note here is that the data seems to be relatively consistent across online pay-per-view services with Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu apparently getting access to the same movies, leading one to think that there is little differentiation between those products (of note: Vudu has actually tried to differentiate on offering by providing 7.1 surround sound and 3D movies to available TV sets.) With prices across those services being roughly the same (movies are renting for $3.99 to $5.99 on average), there is a question as to how those services will be able to provide a differentiated experience in the future.

But the big advantage of doing this again this year is that we can compare the information against last year’s data and see if progress has been made:

Top 10-1SameSameSame-1
Top 25-2+2+2+2+2
top 500SameSameSame-1
Top 100-5-3-2-2Same

The story here isn’t that pretty for Netflix, which has lost substantial ground from last year’s position, offering less than half of the hits it used to offer last year. If you think of their recent moves towards creating original content, it appears that Netflix is slowly moving away from its initial strategy of providing online streaming of movies on a subscription basis and moving more to a model more akin to that of a TV network.

Another interesting development here is that online streaming seems to be some losing ground compared to DVDs. One could assume that, as a new technology, online streaming would be gaining ground on DVDs but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Granted, we only have a couple of data points so next year’s data will provide us with a better understanding as to whether hollywood is trying to slow down the progress of online streaming.

Sales Data

If we are witnessing such a slow down, one of the reason may be that movie studios are looking to maximize revenue coming from sales.

Top 107777
Top 2518181819
top 5033343435

The first interesting item to show up here is that we are now seeing remarkable consistency in availability of titles on streaming services. However, the availability of legal movie streams is still trailing the availability of movies on DVDs. This gap seems to be less pronounced when it comes to the top of the list than when ones goes further back into the box office records.

Once again, looking at how availability this year compared to last year’s availability provides some interesting information:

Top 10+1-1-1-1
Top 25+3-2-1+1
top 50+6+5+4Same

As opposed to online rentals, sales of streaming movies seem to be gaining on sales of DVDs, with an increasing parity in availability of movies as bits (streams) or plastic (DVDs). This appears to confirm the suspicion that movie studios are trying to protect their sales revenue at the expense of promoting pay-per-view.


The past year has seen an increasing alignment in the libraries of titles offered by online streamers in an on-demand basis. At the same time, we have seen Netflix apparently abandon its strategy of offering popular movies on a subscription basis. Next week, I will look at whether Netflix’s efforts are getting more focused on television streams or whether we are seeing them pull back across the board in terms of availability of more recent content.

We are also seeing Hollywood now treating online as more equivalent to DVD sales, offering titles for sale online at roughly the same rate as they do on DVD. Let’s hope that this trend continues to hold and that the industry sees the wisdom of providing online streams in an earlier release window. A few independent movies have done simultaneous releases online and in theaters this year and Hollywood has a potential to increase its revenues if it were to increasingly go in that direction.

Two sets of data only provide a small view into an overall trend but I promise I will continue growing the data set and revisit those numbers next year, giving us a better sense as to whether there is any changes in this segment of the media distribution puzzle.

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2011: The year that was
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Legal streams for 2011 TV hits