Net VOD in 2012 – old movies

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.:

RankMovie TitleNetflixAmazon Prime
1Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2NoNo
2Transformers: Dark of the MoonYesYes
3The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1NoNo
4The Hangover Part IINoNo
5Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesNoNo
6Fast FiveNoNo
7Cars 2NoNo
9Rise of the Planet of the ApesNoNo
10Captain America: The First AvengerYesYes
11The HelpNoNo
13Kung Fu Panda 2NoNo
14X-Men: First ClassNoNo
15Puss in BootsNoNo
17The SmurfsNoNo
18Mission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolYesYes
19Sherlock Holmes: A Game of ShadowsNoNo
20Super 8YesYes
22Horrible BossesNoNo
23Green LanternNoNo
25Paranormal Activity 3YesNo
26Just Go With ItNoNo
27Bad TeacherNoNo
28Cowboys & AliensNoNo
29Gnomeo and JulietNoNo
30The Green HornetNoNo
31Alvin and the Chipmunks: ChipwreckedNoNo
32The Lion King (in 3D)NoNo
33Real SteelNoNo
34Crazy, Stupid, Love.NoNo
35The MuppetsNoNo
36Battle: Los AngelesNoNo
40Tower HeistNoNo
43Justin Bieber: Never Say NeverYesYes
44Dolphin TaleNoNo
45Jack and JillNoNo
46No Strings AttachedYesYes
47Mr. Popper’s PenguinsNoNo
49The Adjustment BureauNoNo
50Happy Feet TwoNoNo
51The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)NoNo
52Water for ElephantsNoNo
53The Lincoln LawyerYesYes
54Midnight in ParisNoNo
55Friends with BenefitsNoNo
56I Am Number FourNoNo
57Source CodeNoNo
59Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy FamilyYesYes
60Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick RulesNoNo
61Footloose (2011)YesYes
62The Adventures of TintinYesYes
64The DilemmaNoNo
65New Year’s EveNoNo
66Arthur ChristmasNoNo
67War HorseNoNo
68Hall PassNoNo
69We Bought a ZooNoNo
70Soul SurferNoNo
71Final Destination 5NoNo
72The Ides of MarchNoNo
73The DescendantsNoNo
75Something BorrowedNoNo
76Spy Kids: All the Time in the WorldNoNo
77Scream 4NoNo
78Big Mommas: Like Father, Like SonNoNo
79Red Riding HoodNoNo
81The RoommateNoNo
82Jumping the BroomNoNo
83The Change-UpNoNo
8430 Minutes or LessNoNo
85In TimeNoNo
87J. EdgarNoNo
88Sucker PunchNoNo
89Larry CrowneNoNo
91Drive (2011)YesNo
92A Very Harold & Kumar 3D ChristmasNoNo
94The RiteNoNo
95Arthur (2011)NoNo
96The DebtNoNo
98The MechanicNoNo

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:

RankMovie TitleNetflixAmazon Prime
1Toy Story 3NoNo
2Alice in WonderlandNoNo
3Iron Man 2NoNo
4The Twilight Saga: EclipseNoNo
6Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1NoNo
7Despicable MeNoNo
8Shrek Forever AfterNoNo
9How to Train Your DragonNoNo
11The Karate KidNoNo
12Clash of the TitansNoNo
13Grown UpsNoNo
14Tron LegacyNoNo
16Little FockersNoNo
17The Last AirbenderNoNo
18True GritYesYes
19Shutter IslandNoNo
20The Other GuysNoNo
22Jackass 3DYesNo
23Valentine’s DayNoNo
24Robin HoodNoNo
25The ExpendablesYesYes
26Due DateNoNo
27The Chronicle of Narnia: Voyage of the DawnTreaderNoNo
28Date NightNoNo
29Sex and the City 2NoNo
30The Social NetworkNoNo
31The Book of EliNoNo
32The TownNoNo
33Prince of Persia: Sands of timeNoNo
35Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning ThiefNoNo
36Paranormal Activity 2YesYes
37Yogi BearNoNo
38Eat Pray LoveNoNo
40Dear JohnNoNo
41The A-teamNoNo
42Knight & DayNoNo
43Black SwanNoNo
44Dinner for SchmucksNoNo
45The FighterNoNo
46The Bounty HunterNoNo
47The TouristNoNo
48Diary of a Wimpy KidNoNo
49The Sorcerer’s ApprenticeNoNo
50A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)NoNo
51The Last SongNoNo
52The WolfmanNoNo
53Get him to the GreekNoNo
54Resident Evil: AfterlifeNoNo
55Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married TooNoNo
56Tooth FairyNoNo
58Easy ANoNo
60Legend of the GuardiansNoNo
61Life as We Know ItNoNo
62Letters to JulietNoNo
63Wall Street: Money Never SleepsNoNo
65Hot Tub Time MachineNoNo
67The King’s SpeechYesNo
69Saw 3DNoNo
70Cop OutNoNo
71Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty GaloreNoNo
72Edge of DarknessNoNo
73Death at a FuneralNoNo
74Step-Up 3DNoNo
75The Last ExorcismYesYes
77The CraziesNoNo
78Gulliver’s TravelsNoNo
80For Colored GirlsYesYes
81The Back-up PlanNoNo
82Vampires SuckNoNo
83The AmericanNoNo
84Green ZoneNoNo
88When in RomeNoNo
89Love and Other DrugsNoNo
90She’s Out of My LeagueNoNo
91Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldNoNo
92Charlie St. CloudNoNo
93Morning GloryYesYes
95How Do You KnowNoNo
96Nanny McPhee ReturnsNoNo
97The SwitchNoNo
98Brooklyn’s FinestNoNo
100Ramona and BeezusNoNo

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:

YearNetflixAmazon Prime

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:

RankMovie TitleAmazoniTunesVudu
1Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2NoNoNo
2Transformers: Dark of the MoonPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
3The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1Purchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
4The Hangover Part IINoNoNo
5Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
6Fast FiveNoNoNo
7Cars 2Purchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
8ThorPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
9Rise of the Planet of the ApesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
10Captain America: The First AvengerNoPurchase onlyPurchase only
11The HelpPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
12BridesmaidsNoPurchase onlyNo
13Kung Fu Panda 2NoNoNo
14X-Men: First ClassPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
15Puss in BootsNoNoNo
16RioPurchase onlyYesPurchase only
17The SmurfsPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
18Mission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolNoPurchase onlyPurchase only
19Sherlock Holmes: A Game of ShadowsNoNoNo
20Super 8Purchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
21RangoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
22Horrible BossesNoNoNo
23Green LanternNoNoNo
25Paranormal Activity 3NoPurchase onlyPurchase only
26Just Go With ItPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
27Bad TeacherPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
28Cowboys & AliensNoNoNo
29Gnomeo and JulietYesYesNo
30The Green HornetYesYesYes
31Alvin and the Chipmunks: ChipwreckedPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
32The Lion King (in 3D)NoNoPurchase only
33Real SteelPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
34Crazy, Stupid, Love.NoNoNo
35The MuppetsPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
36Battle: Los AngelesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
38ZookeeperPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
40Tower HeistNoNoNo
42MoneyballNoPurchase onlyPurchase only
43Justin Bieber: Never Say NeverNoPurchase onlyPurchase only
44Dolphin TaleNoNoNo
45Jack and JillPurchase onlyPurchase onlyNo
46No Strings AttachedYesYesYes
47Mr. Popper’s PenguinsYesYesYes
49The Adjustment BureauYesYesYes
50Happy Feet TwoNoNoNo
51The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)Purchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
52Water for ElephantsPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
53The Lincoln LawyerPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
54Midnight in ParisPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
55Friends with BenefitsPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
56I Am Number FourYesYesYes
57Source CodePurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
58InsidiousPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
59Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy FamilyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyNo
60Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick RulesNoNoYes
61Footloose (2011)Purchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
62The Adventures of TintinPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
63HugoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
64The DilemmaYesYesYes
65New Year’s EveNoNoNo
66Arthur ChristmasYesYesYes
67War HorsePurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
68Hall PassNoNoNo
69We Bought a ZooPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
70Soul SurferPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
71Final Destination 5NoNoNo
72The Ides of MarchPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
73The DescendantsPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
74HannaNoPurchase onlyNo
75Something BorrowedNoNoNo
76Spy Kids: All the Time in the WorldNoNoNo
77Scream 4Purchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
78Big Mommas: Like Father, Like SonNoPurchase onlyPurchase only
79Red Riding HoodYesYesNo
80PaulNoPurchase onlyNo
81The RoommatePurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
82Jumping the BroomPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
83The Change-UpNoNoNo
8430 Minutes or LessPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
85In TimePurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
86ColombianaPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
87J. EdgarNoNoNo
88Sucker PunchYesYesNo
89Larry CrowneNoNoNo
9050/50Purchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
91Drive (2011)YesPurchase onlyPurchase only
92A Very Harold & Kumar 3D ChristmasNoNoNo
93CourageousPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
94The RitePurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
95Arthur (2011)YesYesNo
96The DebtYesNoNo
97PriestPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
98The MechanicNoNoNo
99AbductionPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
100BeastlyNoPurchase onlyYes

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.

Short term license (aka rental)161512
Long term license (aka purchase)475753
Not available372835

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:

RankMovie TitleAmazoniTunesVudu
1Toy Story 3YesYesYes
2Alice in WonderlandYesYesYes
3Iron Man 2YesPurchase onlyYes
4The Twilight Saga: EclipsePurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
6Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1YesYesYes
7Despicable MeYesYesYes
8Shrek Forever AfterPurchase onlyYesPurchase only
9How to Train Your DragonYesYesYes
10TangledYesYesPurchase only
11The Karate KidPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
12Clash of the TitansYesYesYes
13Grown UpsPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
14Tron LegacyYesYesYes
16Little FockersYesYesYes
17The Last AirbenderYesYesYes
18True GritPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
19Shutter IslandYesYesYes
20The Other GuysPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
21SaltPurchase onlyYesPurchase only
22Jackass 3DNoNoNo
23Valentine’s DayYesYesYes
24Robin HoodYesYesYes
25The ExpendablesYesPurchase onlyPurchase only
26Due DateYesYesYes
27The Chronicle of Narnia: Voyage of the DawnTreaderYesYesYes
28Date NightYesYesYes
29Sex and the City 2YesYesYes
30The Social NetworkPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
31The Book of EliYesYesYes
32The TownYesYesYes
33Prince of Persia: Sands of timeYesYesYes
35Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning ThiefYesYesNo
36Paranormal Activity 2YesYesYes
37Yogi BearYesYesYes
38Eat Pray LovePurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
40Dear JohnPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
41The A-teamYesYesYes
42Knight & DayNoYesYes
43Black SwanYesYesYes
44Dinner for SchmucksNoYesNo
45The FighterPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
46The Bounty HunterPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
47The TouristPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
48Diary of a Wimpy KidYesYesYes
49The Sorcerer’s ApprenticeYesYesYes
50A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)YesYesYes
51The Last SongYesYesPurchase only
52The WolfmanYesYesYes
53Get him to the GreekYesYesYes
54Resident Evil: AfterlifeYesYesPurchase only
55Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married TooNoNoNo
56Tooth FairyYesYesYes
58Easy APurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
59TakersPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
60Legend of the GuardiansYesYesYes
61Life as We Know ItYesYesYes
62Letters to JulietPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
63Wall Street: Money Never SleepsYesYesYes
64PredatorsYesYesPurchase only
65Hot Tub Time MachineYesYesPurchase only
66Kick-AssYesPurchase onlyYes
67The King’s SpeechYesYesYes
68KillersYesYesPurchase only
69Saw 3DNoNoNo
70Cop OutYesYesYes
71Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty GaloreYesYesYes
72Edge of DarknessYesNoYes
73Death at a FuneralPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
74Step-Up 3DNoNoNo
75The Last ExorcismYesPurchase onlyPurchase only
76LegionPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
77The CraziesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
78Gulliver’s TravelsYesYesYes
79BurlesquePurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
80For Colored GirlsYesPurchase onlyYes
81The Back-up PlanNoYesNo
82Vampires SuckYesYesYes
83The AmericanNoNoNo
84Green ZoneYesYesYes
88When in RomeYesYesYes
89Love and Other DrugsNoNoPurchase only
90She’s Out of My LeagueYesYesYes
91Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldYesYesYes
92Charlie St. CloudYesYesYes
93Morning GloryPurchase onlyYesPurchase only
94DaybreakersYesYesPurchase only
95How Do You KnowPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase only
96Nanny McPhee ReturnsYesYesYes
97The SwitchYesYesYes
98Brooklyn’s FinestYesYesYes
100Ramona and BeezusYesYesNo

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

Short term license (aka rental)686757
Long term license (aka purchase)222432
Not available10911

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.


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.


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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