Where the hits are streaming in 2011

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:

Rank Movie Title Netflix Amazon iTunes Vudu DVD
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
6 Fast Five No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
7 Cars 2 No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
8 Thor 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
11 The Help No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
12 Bridesmaids 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
16 Rio No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
17 The Smurfs No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
18 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol No No  No No No
19 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows No No  No No No
20 Super 8 No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
21 Rango No Purchase only  Purchase only Purchase only Yes
22 Horrible Bosses No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
23 Green Lantern No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
24 Hop No No  No No No
25 Paranormal Activity 3 No No  No No No
26 Just Go With It No Purchase only  Purchase only Purchase only Yes
27 Bad Teacher No Yes  Yes Yes 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
35 The Muppets No No  No No No
36 Battle: Los Angeles No Purchase only  Purchase only Purchase only Yes
37 Immortals No No  No No No
38 Zookeeper No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
39 Limitless Yes Yes  Yes Yes Yes
40 Tower Heist No No  No No No
41 Contagion No Purchase only  Yes Yes Yes
42 Moneyball No Yes  Purchase only Purchase only Yes
43 Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Yes Purchase only  Purchase only Purchase only Yes
44 Dolphin Tale No Yes  Yes Yes 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
48 Unknown No No  No No 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
57 Source Code No Yes  Yes Yes 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
61 Footloose (2011) No No  No No No
62 The Adventures of Tintin No No  No No No
63 Hugo No No  No No No
64 The Dilemma No No  No No Yes
65 New Year’s Eve No No  No No No
66 Arthur Christmas No No  No No No
67 War Horse No No  No No No
68 Hall Pass No No  No No Yes
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
73 The Descendants No No  No No No
74 Hanna No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
75 Something Borrowed No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
76 Spy Kids: All the Time in the World No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
77 Scream 4 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
80 Paul No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
81 The Roommate No Purchase only  Purchase only Purchase only Yes
82 Jumping the Broom No Purchase only  Purchase only Purchase only Yes
83 The Change-Up No Yes  Yes No Yes
84 30 Minutes or Less No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
85 In Time No No  No No No
86 Colombiana No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
87 J. Edgar No No  No No No
88 Sucker Punch No No  No No Yes
89 Larry Crowne No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
90 50/50 No No  No No Yes
91 Drive (2011) No No  No No Yes
92 A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas No No  No No No
93 Courageous No Purchase only  No Yes Yes
94 The Rite No No  No No Yes
95 Arthur (2011) No No  No No Yes
96 The Debt No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
97 Priest No Purchase only  Purchase only Purchase only Yes
98 The Mechanic No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
99 Abduction No Yes  Yes Yes Yes
100 Beastly No Yes  Yes 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

Netflix Amazon iTunes Vudu DVD
Top 10 0 7 7 7 7
Top 25 0 16 16 16 19
top 50 4 25 25 25 35
Top 100 5 45 44 44 74

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:

Netflix Amazon iTunes Vudu DVD
Top 10 -1 Same Same Same -1
Top 25 -2 +2 +2 +2 +2
top 50 0 Same Same Same -1
Top 100 -5 -3 -2 -2 Same

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.

Sales Data

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.

Ama­zon iTunes Vudu DVD
Top 10 7 7 7 7
Top 25 18 18 18 19
top 50 33 34 34 35
Over­all 61 62 61 74

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:

Ama­zon iTunes Vudu DVD
Top 10 +1 -1 -1 -1
Top 25 +3 -2 -1 +1
top 50 +6 +5 +4 Same
Over­all +5 -2 +4 +1

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.

Previous Post
2011: The year that was
Next Post
Legal streams for 2011 TV hits
%d bloggers like this: