Netflix Streaming Doesn’t Have the Biggest Movies
January 15, 2012

Tristan Louis has created an insightful chart. He took the top 100 movie hits for 2011 (via gross income) and examined which are available for streaming and where. He compares Neflix, iTunes, Amazon, and Vudu (which I know very little about). The conclusions are indicative, I think, of studio strategy for their films. (There are more charts and analysis at the link.)

Chart of movie streaming availability

First, iTunes, Amazon, and Vudu are very similar. With one or two exceptions, they all have the same movies available and usually the same restrictions. Some films are available for purchase only, not online “rental”.

Second, Netflix is not a preferred outlet to see the big films. None of the top 25 are available, and only four of the top 100. (Strangely, of those four, three are not available to stream elsewhere. Exclusive deals?) The reason for this, I think, is obvious — studios want viewers to pay per movie. They don’t like the “all you can eat” viewing method, with one low monthly price, because they don’t get to exploit all the “value” from their films they can. Studios can block Netflix from streaming movies but not from them offering the discs.

Last, DVD is still the way to go. The films that aren’t there will be soon, since some of them are still playing in theaters. Whether that reflects studio preference (they want to sell product, not make movies available digitally) or customer desire (I’d rather “own” something than have to watch can-be-jittery films over an internet connection, and streaming can eat up bandwidth if your account is limited, and $3.99 to watch a film only once seems high to me when I’m providing the venue) or both, I don’t know.

11 Responses  
John writes:  

Good point, but I will say this about Netflix – I’ve encountered a number of really great foreign films that I was unfamiliar with and only blundered into them browsing Netflix. It’s filled with interesting and obscure foreign movies – which isn’t to say thattheothers aren’t (I honestly have no idea) but for me, that’s a huge consideration – blockbusters, as you point out, are much easier to come by.

Johanna writes:  

That’s true, Netflix is great for obscure things and various specialized audiences.

Ralf Haring writes:  

I thought this post summed things up nicely: http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/01/scarcity-is-a-shitty-business-model.html

David Oakes writes:  

I think a comment in a follow-through from the page Ralph links to says it even better, and it quite applicable to comics as well:

Why earn your customers one by one when you can get to mass volumes, and a fixed amount of recurring revenue, through a distribution partner?


Johanna writes:  

Great point, thanks for pointing that out, David. Established providers like things the way they are — or even more so, the way they used to be.

Augie De Blieck Jr. writes:  

I haven’t had a Netflix account in something like a decade now (the last DVD that sat in my player for months unplayed was ‘Topsy Turvy’), but it seems to me that Netflix is really a great TV show streaming device. It seems like most of the people I see commenting about watching Netflix are really watching TV series. This is probably good proof of why that is. . .

Kat Kan writes:  

My older son and his wife depend on Netflix for most of their TV watching – Blues Clues for their 15-month-old son, lots of old TV series for them; my husband loves the older action movies and the foreign films – that’s how he discovered The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in the original Swedish movie. My family apparently doesn’t care that the “hottest” movies aren’t available for streaming – we tend not to watch them anyway.

bryan g writes:  

i wanna know why netflix says they have (THOUSANDS) of movies an shows but can never find much of nothing,so then you hit the search button and they dont have what you want to watch. and sometimes i want to watch anime like naruto or inuyasha but cant cause they dont have the english versions and i cant watch the show do to having to read the sub-titles.

TMinja writes:  

I recently subscribed to the basic netflix level and am disappointed because i cannot find any of the TV shows or Showtime series I signed up for (Engliish version of Shameless and New Girl for my fiance). Are these available on Netflix at the premium subscription?

HypnotiqNights writes:  

Yeah, Netflix…. Doesn’t even have Desperado or Tank Girl… Adults should be able to watch “any” movie that has been made… Sad, sad, sad..

Alan comic writes:  

Netflix search and browse beats all. Ive watched a lot that i didnt know existed including documentaries and foreign films. But I’ve been very disappointed in their lack of offerings of popular movies. Many movies from the 80s aren’t offered. Back to the future? Major league? Wtf? The joke in the house now is if we search for it you can guarantee it won’t be available. But the search and suggestions on Netflix beat the hell out of hulu and amazon


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