Streaming held back

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve looked at availability of movies and TV shows that came out in the past year. But what about movies that came two years ago? Are those more available today than they were a year ago? Let’s look at the data.

2010: Box Office Winners availability

A year ago, I went through the list of box office winners and looked at their availability online. I pulled the information again in January 2012, a full year after the initial data set. The 2012 data looked like this:

RankTitleNetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVD
1Toy Story 3YesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
2Alice in Wonderland NoYesYesYesYes
3Iron Man 2YesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
4The Twilight Saga: EclipseNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
5InceptionNoNoNoNoYes
6Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1NoNoNoNoYes
7Despicable MeNoNoNoNoYes
8Shrek Forever AfterNoNoNoNoYes
9How to Train Your DragonNoNoNoNoYes
10TangledYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
11The Karate KidNoNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
12Clash of the TitansNoYesYesNoYes
13Grown UpsNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
14Tron LegacyYesPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
15MegamindNoNoNoNoYes
16Little FockersNoNoNoNoYes
17The Last AirbenderYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
18True GritYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
19Shutter IslandYesYesYesYesYes
20The Other GuysNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
21SaltNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
22Jackass 3DYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
23Valentine’s DayNoNoYesNoYes
24Robin HoodNoNoNoNoYes
25The ExpendablesYesYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
26Due DateNoNoNoNoYes
27The Chronicle of Narnia:
Voyage of the Dawn Treader
NoNoNoNoYes
28Date NightNoNoNoNoYes
29Sex and the City 2NoNoNoNoYes
30The Social NetworkNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
31The Book of EliNoYesYesNoYes
32The TownNoNoNoNoYes
33Prince of Persia:
The Sands of Time
YesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
34RedNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
35Percy Jackson & The Olympians:
The Lightning Thief
NoYesYesYesYes
36Paranormal Activity 2YesPurchase onlyNoPurchase onlyYes
37Yogi BearNoNoNoNoYes
38Eat Pray LoveNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
39UnstoppableNoNoNoNoYes
40Dear JohnNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
41The A-teamNoNoNoNoYes
42Knight & DayNoNoNoNoYes
43Black SwanNoNoNoNoYes
44Dinner for SchmucksNoNoNoNoYes
45The FighterYesPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
46The Bounty HunterNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
47The TouristNoPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
48Diary of a Wimpy KidNoNo NoNoYes
49The Sorcerer’s ApprenticeYesYes Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
50A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)NoNo NoNoYes
51The Last SongYesPurchase only Purchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
52The WolfmanNoYesYesYesYes
53Get him to the GreekNoNoNoNoYes
54Resident Evil: AfterlifeNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
55Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married TooYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
56Tooth FairyNoYesYesYesYes
57SecretariatYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
58Easy ANoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
59TakersNo Purchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
60Legend of the Guardians:
The Owls of Ga’hoole
NoNoNoNoYes
61Life as We Know ItNoNoNoNoYes
62Letters to JulietNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
63Wall Street: Money Never SleepsNoNoNoNoYes
64PredatorsNoNoNoNoYes
65Hot Tub Time MachineYesNoYesNoYes
66Kick-AssYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
67The King’s SpeechNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
68KillersYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
69Saw 3DNoYesYesYesYes
70Cop OutNoYesYesNoYes
71Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty GaloreNoNoNoNoYes
72Edge of DarknessNoNoNoNoYes
73Death at a FuneralNoYesYesPurchase onlyYes
74Step-Up 3DYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
75The Last ExorcismYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
76LegionNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
77The CraziesYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
78Gulliver’s TravelsNoNoNoNoYes
79BurlesqueNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
80For Colored GirlsYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
81The Back-up PlanNoPurchase onlyNoNoYes
82Vampires SuckNoNoNoNoYes
83The AmericanNoNoNoNoYes
84Green ZoneNoYesYesYesYes
85MarmadukeNoNoNoNoYes
86DevilNoNoNoNoYes
87HereafterNoNoNoNoYes
88When in RomeNoYesYesYesYes
89Love and Other DrugsNoNoNoNoYes
90She’s Out of My LeagueNoYesYesYesYes
91Scott Pilgrim vs. the WorldNoNoNoNoYes
92Charlie St. CloudNoNoNoNoYes
93Morning GloryYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
94DaybreakersYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
95How Do You KnowNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
96Nanny McPhee ReturnsNoNoNoNoYes
97The SwitchNoPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
98Brooklyn’s FinestYesPurchase onlyPurchase onlyPurchase onlyYes
99MacheteNoNoNoNoYes
100Ramona and BeezusNoNoNoNoYes

Aggregate Rental data

When you tally it up, the rental only chart (excluding movies you can purchase) looks as follows:

NetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVD
Top 10311110
Top 25944225
top 501376350
Top 10026151515100

The data seems to show that hits from over a year ago are still difficult to get. Netflix fares best, capturing 26% of the titles but pay-per-view services like Amazon, iTunes, and Vudu turn in a paltry offering with only 15% of the 2010 box office winners being available for rent on these services.

So, having run the data for 2 years in a row, are we seeing improvements in the market?

Rankings20102011Difference
NetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVDNetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVDNetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVD
Top 1017778311110 +2 -6 -6 -6 +2
Top 25214141518944225 +7 -10 -10 -13 +7
Top 504262526351376350 +9 -19 -19 -23 +15
Top 10010504647752615159100 +16 -35 -31 -38 +25

The picture here actually shows something fairly disastrous to people who hope that things are improving in terms of availability of movies along the long tail. While Netflix turns in a stronger performance, more than doubling availabilities of 2010 box office winners from 10 to 26, all other online services are seeing availability drop by 31% or more. This means that almost one third fewer 2010 box office winners are available this year as rentals as compared to last year. The strategy here seems to call in question the existence of a long tail in terms of media availability as far as rentals are concerned.

While the cost of storing a movie is a marginal one, it appears studios prefer to not make titles available as rentals online. There is some humor in the fact that whatever corner DVD rental place is still in existence near your home probably has a higher selection of available titles from 2010 than could be found last year because ALL 2010 box office winners are now available on DVD.

Aggregate Rental and Sales data

So, with a strong suspicion that sales numbers may be better, let’s see what happens if we had movies that may not be available for rent but can be purchase (ie. are more expensive to get)

NetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVD
Top 10354510
Top 25915151525
top 501327222650
Top 10026565154100

The first one notices here is that the number of titles legally available online is still relatively low a full year after all the titles have been released. While DVDs have come out, legal online streaming services online offer a bit over half of the 2010 box office winners, with Amazon having the most extensive catalog. The availability of legal movie streams, when compared to DVD, is still a challenge.

But have things improved since last year? To figure that out, let’s look at the availability of the same titles over the last couple of years:

Rankings20102011Difference
NetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVDNetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVDNetflixAmazoniTunesVuduDVD
Top 1017888354510 +2 -2 -4 -3 +2
Top 25216161718915151525 +7 -1 -1 -2 +7
Top 504292930351327222650 +9 -2 -7 -4 +15
Top 100105859587526565154100 +16 -2 -8 -4 +25

My initial hunch was that we would have seen improvements in the sales of legal streams from one year to the next, just as we would would have seen for DVDs because of availability.

But the picture is actually surprising as the availability of legal streams for 2010 box office winners has dropped in the last 12 months. On their face, one might expect sales of legal online streams to see patterns similar to sales of DVDs, even if they would trail the plastic medium. But what’s surprising here is that it appears studios have decided to pull their movie catalogs back offline.

There is still a long way before legal online streaming matches DVD sales as it appears movie studios are still addicted to selling pieces of plastic than they are to selling movies in any form available.

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