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:
|1||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2||Transformers: Dark of the Moon||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|3||The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|4||The Hangover Part II||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|5||Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|9||Rise of the Planet of the Apes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|10||Captain America: The First Avenger||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|13||Kung Fu Panda 2||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|14||X-Men: First Class||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|15||Puss in Boots||No||No||No||No||No|
|18||Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol||No||No||No||No||No|
|19||Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows||No||No||No||No||No|
|21||Rango||No||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|25||Paranormal Activity 3||No||No||No||No||No|
|26||Just Go With It||No||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|28||Cowboys & Aliens||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|29||Gnomeo and Juliet||Yes||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|30||The Green Hornet||No||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|31||Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked||No||No||No||No||No|
|32||The Lion King (in 3D)||No||Purchase only (non-3D)||Purchase only (non-3D)||Purchase only||No|
|33||Real Steel||No||No||Purchase only||No||Yes|
|34||Crazy, Stupid, Love.||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|36||Battle: Los Angeles||No||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|42||Moneyball||No||Yes||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|43||Justin Bieber: Never Say Never||Yes||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|45||Jack and Jill||No||No||No||No||No|
|46||No Strings Attached||Yes||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||No|
|47||Mr. Popper’s Penguins||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|49||The Adjustment Bureau||No||No||No||No||No|
|50||Happy Feet Two||No||No||No||No||No|
|51||The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)||No||No||No||No||No|
|52||Water for Elephants||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|53||The Lincoln Lawyer||No||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|54||Midnight in Paris||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|55||Friends with Benefits||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|56||I Am Number Four||No||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|58||Insidious||Yes||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|59||Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|60||Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|62||The Adventures of Tintin||No||No||No||No||No|
|65||New Year’s Eve||No||No||No||No||No|
|69||We Bought a Zoo||No||No||No||No||No|
|70||Soul Surfer||No||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|71||Final Destination 5||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|72||The Ides of March||No||No||Purchase only||Yes||Yes|
|76||Spy Kids: All the Time in the World||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|78||Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|79||Red Riding Hood||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|81||The Roommate||No||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|82||Jumping the Broom||No||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
|84||30 Minutes or Less||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|92||A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas||No||No||No||No||No|
|97||Priest||No||Purchase only||Purchase only||Purchase only||Yes|
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
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.