Net VOD in 2012 – old movies

Where does the back-catalog sit for streaming media?

Last week, I looked at which 2012 hits were streaming online. When I do such research, one of the common complain is that I should not be looking to recent movies since they are mostly not available even on paid cable TV. This week, I’m delving deeper into the data set by assessing whether the top hits from last year (and the year before) are available for legal streaming.

Subscription services

Let’s first take a look at the two top paid all-you-can-eat subscription services: Netflix and Amazon Prime (remember that Amazon Prime is different from Amazon VOD in that it follows a model similar to Netflix’s). So how available are the top 100 movies of 2011, movies that were released over a year ago and have gone through the usual release windows of movie theater release, DVD releases, and paid TV releases.:

Rank Movie Title Netflix Amazon Prime
1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 No No
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon Yes Yes
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 No No
4 The Hangover Part II No No
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides No No
6 Fast Five No No
7 Cars 2 No No
8 Thor Yes Yes
9 Rise of the Planet of the Apes No No
10 Captain America: The First Avenger Yes Yes
11 The Help No No
12 Bridesmaids No No
13 Kung Fu Panda 2 No No
14 X-Men: First Class No No
15 Puss in Boots No No
16 Rio No No
17 The Smurfs No No
18 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Yes Yes
19 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows No No
20 Super 8 Yes Yes
21 Rango Yes Yes
22 Horrible Bosses No No
23 Green Lantern No No
24 Hop No No
25 Paranormal Activity 3 Yes No
26 Just Go With It No No
27 Bad Teacher No No
28 Cowboys & Aliens No No
29 Gnomeo and Juliet No No
30 The Green Hornet No No
31 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked No No
32 The Lion King (in 3D) No No
33 Real Steel No No
34 Crazy, Stupid, Love. No No
35 The Muppets No No
36 Battle: Los Angeles No No
37 Immortals Yes No
38 Zookeeper No No
39 Limitless Yes No
40 Tower Heist No No
41 Contagion No No
42 Moneyball No No
43 Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Yes Yes
44 Dolphin Tale No No
45 Jack and Jill No No
46 No Strings Attached Yes Yes
47 Mr. Popper’s Penguins No No
48 Unknown No No
49 The Adjustment Bureau No No
50 Happy Feet Two No No
51 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) No No
52 Water for Elephants No No
53 The Lincoln Lawyer Yes Yes
54 Midnight in Paris No No
55 Friends with Benefits No No
56 I Am Number Four No No
57 Source Code No No
58 Insidious Yes No
59 Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family Yes Yes
60 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules No No
61 Footloose (2011) Yes Yes
62 The Adventures of Tintin Yes Yes
63 Hugo Yes Yes
64 The Dilemma No No
65 New Year’s Eve No No
66 Arthur Christmas No No
67 War Horse No No
68 Hall Pass No No
69 We Bought a Zoo No No
70 Soul Surfer No No
71 Final Destination 5 No No
72 The Ides of March No No
73 The Descendants No No
74 Hanna No No
75 Something Borrowed No No
76 Spy Kids: All the Time in the World No No
77 Scream 4 No No
78 Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son No No
79 Red Riding Hood No No
80 Paul No No
81 The Roommate No No
82 Jumping the Broom No No
83 The Change-Up No No
84 30 Minutes or Less No No
85 In Time No No
86 Colombiana No No
87 J. Edgar No No
88 Sucker Punch No No
89 Larry Crowne No No
90 50/50 No No
91 Drive (2011) Yes No
92 A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas No No
93 Courageous No No
94 The Rite No No
95 Arthur (2011) No No
96 The Debt No No
97 Priest No No
98 The Mechanic No No
99 Abduction Yes Yes
100 Beastly No No

There’s a lot of red there, showing that a lot of hit movies are still not available on those services. Netflix has 19 of the top 100 hits of 2011 available and Amazon Prime offers 14 of them. One thing that surprised me here is that, compared to last year, Amazon seems to have made some progress in terms of catching up to Netflix. However, this is still a dismal showing for both services as they present less than one out of five hit movies from over a year ago.

Since I was looking, I figured I would also investigate how movies from 2010, when I first started this series, fared. These are movies that have gone, without a doubt, through all possible release window you can imagine. So what does it look like? Let’s see:

Rank Movie Title Netflix Amazon Prime
1 Toy Story 3 No No
2 Alice in Wonderland No No
3 Iron Man 2 No No
4 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse No No
5 Inception No No
6 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 No No
7 Despicable Me No No
8 Shrek Forever After No No
9 How to Train Your Dragon No No
10 Tangled No No
11 The Karate Kid No No
12 Clash of the Titans No No
13 Grown Ups No No
14 Tron Legacy No No
15 Megamind No No
16 Little Fockers No No
17 The Last Airbender No No
18 True Grit Yes Yes
19 Shutter Island No No
20 The Other Guys No No
21 Salt No No
22 Jackass 3D Yes No
23 Valentine’s Day No No
24 Robin Hood No No
25 The Expendables Yes Yes
26 Due Date No No
27 The Chronicle of Narnia: Voyage of the DawnTreader No No
28 Date Night No No
29 Sex and the City 2 No No
30 The Social Network No No
31 The Book of Eli No No
32 The Town No No
33 Prince of Persia: Sands of time No No
34 Red No No
35 Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief No No
36 Paranormal Activity 2 Yes Yes
37 Yogi Bear No No
38 Eat Pray Love No No
39 Unstoppable No No
40 Dear John No No
41 The A-team No No
42 Knight & Day No No
43 Black Swan No No
44 Dinner for Schmucks No No
45 The Fighter No No
46 The Bounty Hunter No No
47 The Tourist No No
48 Diary of a Wimpy Kid No No
49 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice No No
50 A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) No No
51 The Last Song No No
52 The Wolfman No No
53 Get him to the Greek No No
54 Resident Evil: Afterlife No No
55 Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too No No
56 Tooth Fairy No No
57 Secretariat No No
58 Easy A No No
59 Takers No No
60 Legend of the Guardians No No
61 Life as We Know It No No
62 Letters to Juliet No No
63 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps No No
64 Predators No No
65 Hot Tub Time Machine No No
66 Kick-Ass No No
67 The King’s Speech Yes No
68 Killers No No
69 Saw 3D No No
70 Cop Out No No
71 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore No No
72 Edge of Darkness No No
73 Death at a Funeral No No
74 Step-Up 3D No No
75 The Last Exorcism Yes Yes
76 Legion No No
77 The Crazies No No
78 Gulliver’s Travels No No
79 Burlesque No No
80 For Colored Girls Yes Yes
81 The Back-up Plan No No
82 Vampires Suck No No
83 The American No No
84 Green Zone No No
85 Marmaduke No No
86 Devil No No
87 Hereafter No No
88 When in Rome No No
89 Love and Other Drugs No No
90 She’s Out of My League No No
91 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World No No
92 Charlie St. Cloud No No
93 Morning Glory Yes Yes
94 Daybreakers No No
95 How Do You Know No No
96 Nanny McPhee Returns No No
97 The Switch No No
98 Brooklyn’s Finest No No
99 Machete No No
100 Ramona and Beezus No No

You would think that hit movies from 2010 would be available on services like Netflix and Amazon Prime in 2013. But, by the look of it, there is still much work to be done here. Netflix has 8 titles, while Amazon Prime has 6. In other words, it appears that the deeper you go into the catalog, the fewer hits you get.

Having looked at the position of 300 titles, which gives us a pretty decent data set, let’s see what availability of blockbuster hits on rental services looks like:

Year Netflix Amazon Prime
2010 8 6
2011 19 14
2012 5 2
Total 32 22

So looking at a 3 year range, Netflix offer 10.6% of the top titles to come out that year and Amazon Prime offers 7.3%. If they are to compete with regular cable TV, they might have some catching up to do.

Internet Video on Demand

Of course, the subscription model is not the only one to exist in the online space. Many services like Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu, now offer internet video-on-demand, charging a per-movie fee to either purchase either a short-term (generally 24 to 48 hours) or permanent license to stream a specific titles. Short term licenses, also known as rentals, typically sell for $3.99 to $7.99; permanent license retail for $9.99 and up. Last week, I looked at availability of 2012 blockbusters on those services. But what about older titles? Let’s take a look at the top 100 titles to hit the box office in 2011:

Rank Movie Title Amazon iTunes Vudu
1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 No No No
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
4 The Hangover Part II No No No
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
6 Fast Five No No No
7 Cars 2 Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
8 Thor Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
9 Rise of the Planet of the Apes Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
10 Captain America: The First Avenger No Purchase only Purchase only
11 The Help Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
12 Bridesmaids No Purchase only No
13 Kung Fu Panda 2 No No No
14 X-Men: First Class Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
15 Puss in Boots No No No
16 Rio Purchase only Yes Purchase only
17 The Smurfs Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
18 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol No Purchase only Purchase only
19 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows No No No
20 Super 8 Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
21 Rango Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
22 Horrible Bosses No No No
23 Green Lantern No No No
24 Hop No No No
25 Paranormal Activity 3 No Purchase only Purchase only
26 Just Go With It Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
27 Bad Teacher Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
28 Cowboys & Aliens No No No
29 Gnomeo and Juliet Yes Yes No
30 The Green Hornet Yes Yes Yes
31 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
32 The Lion King (in 3D) No No Purchase only
33 Real Steel Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
34 Crazy, Stupid, Love. No No No
35 The Muppets Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
36 Battle: Los Angeles Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
37 Immortals Yes Yes Yes
38 Zookeeper Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
39 Limitless Yes Yes Yes
40 Tower Heist No No No
41 Contagion No No No
42 Moneyball No Purchase only Purchase only
43 Justin Bieber: Never Say Never No Purchase only Purchase only
44 Dolphin Tale No No No
45 Jack and Jill Purchase only Purchase only No
46 No Strings Attached Yes Yes Yes
47 Mr. Popper’s Penguins Yes Yes Yes
48 Unknown Yes Yes Yes
49 The Adjustment Bureau Yes Yes Yes
50 Happy Feet Two No No No
51 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
52 Water for Elephants Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
53 The Lincoln Lawyer Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
54 Midnight in Paris Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
55 Friends with Benefits Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
56 I Am Number Four Yes Yes Yes
57 Source Code Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
58 Insidious Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
59 Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family Purchase only Purchase only No
60 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules No No Yes
61 Footloose (2011) Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
62 The Adventures of Tintin Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
63 Hugo Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
64 The Dilemma Yes Yes Yes
65 New Year’s Eve No No No
66 Arthur Christmas Yes Yes Yes
67 War Horse Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
68 Hall Pass No No No
69 We Bought a Zoo Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
70 Soul Surfer Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
71 Final Destination 5 No No No
72 The Ides of March Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
73 The Descendants Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
74 Hanna No Purchase only No
75 Something Borrowed No No No
76 Spy Kids: All the Time in the World No No No
77 Scream 4 Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
78 Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son No Purchase only Purchase only
79 Red Riding Hood Yes Yes No
80 Paul No Purchase only No
81 The Roommate Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
82 Jumping the Broom Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
83 The Change-Up No No No
84 30 Minutes or Less Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
85 In Time Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
86 Colombiana Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
87 J. Edgar No No No
88 Sucker Punch Yes Yes No
89 Larry Crowne No No No
90 50/50 Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
91 Drive (2011) Yes Purchase only Purchase only
92 A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas No No No
93 Courageous Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
94 The Rite Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
95 Arthur (2011) Yes Yes No
96 The Debt Yes No No
97 Priest Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
98 The Mechanic No No No
99 Abduction Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
100 Beastly No Purchase only Yes

What I find particularly interesting about this chart is how it breaks down. While a lot of titles used to be available for short term rentals, Hollywood seems to be pushing providers to move to unlimited licenses and keep users from buying single use licenses to content.

Type Amazon iTunes Vudu
Short term license (aka rental) 16 15 12
Long term license (aka purchase) 47 57 53
Not available 37 28 35

While it is surprising that over 1/3rd of all titles are still not available for streaming (with Apple iTunes faring a little better as it can claim to have 62% of the titles), the majority of the titles are only available under long-term licenses, the more expensive kind of offering in the online space. Granted, when compared with the price of a movie ticket, these may be considered relatively cheap but when compared with the price of a short term license, we’re looking at prices that are two to three times higher. It seems Hollywood and online VOD providers have come to an agreement that older titles ought to be put in the sales bucket instead of the rental one.

Assuming that this were the case, we should see the same pattern on 2010 titles, which are now over 2 years old and well beyond any release window dates. Let’s take a look:

Rank Movie Title Amazon iTunes Vudu
1 Toy Story 3 Yes Yes Yes
2 Alice in Wonderland Yes Yes Yes
3 Iron Man 2 Yes Purchase only Yes
4 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
5 Inception Yes Yes Yes
6 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Yes Yes Yes
7 Despicable Me Yes Yes Yes
8 Shrek Forever After Purchase only Yes Purchase only
9 How to Train Your Dragon Yes Yes Yes
10 Tangled Yes Yes Purchase only
11 The Karate Kid Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
12 Clash of the Titans Yes Yes Yes
13 Grown Ups Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
14 Tron Legacy Yes Yes Yes
15 Megamind Yes Yes Yes
16 Little Fockers Yes Yes Yes
17 The Last Airbender Yes Yes Yes
18 True Grit Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
19 Shutter Island Yes Yes Yes
20 The Other Guys Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
21 Salt Purchase only Yes Purchase only
22 Jackass 3D No No No
23 Valentine’s Day Yes Yes Yes
24 Robin Hood Yes Yes Yes
25 The Expendables Yes Purchase only Purchase only
26 Due Date Yes Yes Yes
27 The Chronicle of Narnia: Voyage of the DawnTreader Yes Yes Yes
28 Date Night Yes Yes Yes
29 Sex and the City 2 Yes Yes Yes
30 The Social Network Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
31 The Book of Eli Yes Yes Yes
32 The Town Yes Yes Yes
33 Prince of Persia: Sands of time Yes Yes Yes
34 Red Yes No No
35 Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief Yes Yes No
36 Paranormal Activity 2 Yes Yes Yes
37 Yogi Bear Yes Yes Yes
38 Eat Pray Love Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
39 Unstoppable Yes Yes Yes
40 Dear John Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
41 The A-team Yes Yes Yes
42 Knight & Day No Yes Yes
43 Black Swan Yes Yes Yes
44 Dinner for Schmucks No Yes No
45 The Fighter Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
46 The Bounty Hunter Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
47 The Tourist Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
48 Diary of a Wimpy Kid Yes Yes Yes
49 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Yes Yes Yes
50 A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Yes Yes Yes
51 The Last Song Yes Yes Purchase only
52 The Wolfman Yes Yes Yes
53 Get him to the Greek Yes Yes Yes
54 Resident Evil: Afterlife Yes Yes Purchase only
55 Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too No No No
56 Tooth Fairy Yes Yes Yes
57 Secretariat Yes Yes Yes
58 Easy A Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
59 Takers Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
60 Legend of the Guardians Yes Yes Yes
61 Life as We Know It Yes Yes Yes
62 Letters to Juliet Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
63 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Yes Yes Yes
64 Predators Yes Yes Purchase only
65 Hot Tub Time Machine Yes Yes Purchase only
66 Kick-Ass Yes Purchase only Yes
67 The King’s Speech Yes Yes Yes
68 Killers Yes Yes Purchase only
69 Saw 3D No No No
70 Cop Out Yes Yes Yes
71 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Yes Yes Yes
72 Edge of Darkness Yes No Yes
73 Death at a Funeral Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
74 Step-Up 3D No No No
75 The Last Exorcism Yes Purchase only Purchase only
76 Legion Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
77 The Crazies Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
78 Gulliver’s Travels Yes Yes Yes
79 Burlesque Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
80 For Colored Girls Yes Purchase only Yes
81 The Back-up Plan No Yes No
82 Vampires Suck Yes Yes Yes
83 The American No No No
84 Green Zone Yes Yes Yes
85 Marmaduke Yes Yes Yes
86 Devil No No No
87 Hereafter Yes Yes Yes
88 When in Rome Yes Yes Yes
89 Love and Other Drugs No No Purchase only
90 She’s Out of My League Yes Yes Yes
91 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Yes Yes Yes
92 Charlie St. Cloud Yes Yes Yes
93 Morning Glory Purchase only Yes Purchase only
94 Daybreakers Yes Yes Purchase only
95 How Do You Know Purchase only Purchase only Purchase only
96 Nanny McPhee Returns Yes Yes Yes
97 The Switch Yes Yes Yes
98 Brooklyn’s Finest Yes Yes Yes
99 Machete Yes Yes Yes
100 Ramona and Beezus Yes Yes No

But here, something strange is happening. Apparently, we see a reversal back to the rental model when a title is over two years old.

Type Amazon iTunes Vudu
Short term license (aka rental) 68 67 57
Long term license (aka purchase) 22 24 32
Not available 10 9 11

It’s an odd reversal of the model as long term licenses for a lot of those titles cannot be bought but short term ones (ie. rentals) are more readily available than long term ones. But what about total availability? Is it any better than what we witnessed on a-la-carte service? Let’s do a recap and see if we’re seeing progress there.

Year Amazon iTunes Vudu
2010 90 91 89
2011 63 72 65
2012 57 59 59
Total 210 222 213

Here, we see some improvements as roughly two thirds of all blockbusters of the last three years appear to be available in some form as legal streams (Amazon: 70%, iTunes: 74%, Vudu: 71%) thanks to substantial increase in back-catalog. However, in a world where 92% of those titles are available on DVD, there are still questions as to why a 20% gap continues to exist between pieces of plastic and electronic streams. That gap will, unfortunately, be filled by consumers through alternate means, most of which involve getting such content illegally. If Hollywood wants to stem the flow of piracy, its  best option is to establish parity between BluRay/DVD and online streams
Another important thing we can see is that the all-you-can-eat subscription model is not the best way to access mainstream movies. The studios have voted and it is clear that they prefer a model where fees are established at run time instead of in an all you can eat approach. One can only assume that the revenue envisioned under the traditional VOD model is something that is still more appealing to movie studios than new models where a stream may or may not happen. This could call into question the long term viability of the subscription model, unless we see new “premium” type of offerings emerging.

Conclusion

When it comes to finding legal streams for movies on the internet, the situation is improving from year to year but there is still much work to be done. Hollywood is still clinging on to the concept of selling physical goods like BluRay and DVD disks and giving those formats an advantage over legal streams. The result of such decision will undoubtedly be that consumers looking for such content in the online world may be driven to piracy. This observation is not a mere toss-away but rather a belief that what we witnessed in the music industry over a decade ago, with consumers opting for illegal but free MP3 downloads over legal equivalent is now starting to happen in the movie industry. The movie industry, however, has learned somewhat from the lessons of the music industry and is slowly trying to adapt. The gap in their adoption speed is where most of the piracy will sit today. Whether the studios want to stamp out piracy or not is really in their hands as it’s been shown that providing legal alternatives generally ends up undercutting illegal efforts. Will Hollywood be smart enough to evolve to the new format? The jury is still open on that but signs point to some chances for progress.

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About the Author

Tristan Louis

Writing and working on the internet since 1993, I've launched 6 companies, of which 2 (internet.com and Earthweb) went public and two were sold (Net Quotient and MoveableMedia). My latest, Keepskor provides tools allowing anyone to develop mobile and connected TV games without writing a line of code. This is my personal site and all opinions here are mine.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mdrips Michael Drips

    If you move to a different country, all of the movies you purchased can no longer be downloaded once you change to a non-American bank. If you even travel to a different country, you cannot download your content in most cases, so download what you want to watch before you go.