An often heard excuse from pirates is that they can’t find the content they’re looking for in their home country, at least not for a decent price.
In recent months Hollywood has started to attack what they see as a myth, pointing out that movies and TV-shows are more widely available than ever before.
“The number of online platforms for legally viewing movies and TV shows continues to grow steadily, making more creative content from all over the world available to more audiences than ever before,” the MPAA’s Julia Jenks wrote last week.
“There are now more than 480 unique legitimate online services available in countries around the world and 120 such services available in the United States.”
This is correct and backed up by a recent MPAA-commissioned study. But there’s also an important element missing from the analysis. Unlike the music industry, where subscription services such as Spotify offer the most popular content, the video market is much more scattered.
Perhaps the public doesn’t want to use dozens of different services to watch movies and TV-shows?
And what about the news that the content library of the dominant video platform Netflix is shrinking rather than growing? Earlier this week Allflix showed that the U.S. Netflix catalog has shrunk by more than 2,500 titles since 2014.
This prompted us to conduct a small survey, looking at some of the top movies made over the past two decades – the winners of the Academy Award’s Best Picture category. Quite surprisingly, none of the films that won the prestigious award this millennium are available on the U.S. version of Netflix.
We have to go all the way back to 1999 to spot the first Best Picture Oscar winner on Netflix, American Beauty.
Interestingly, many of the more recent Oscar winners are available in other regions, such as Afghanistan, Antarctica, Aruba, Canada, Guyana, Haiti and Venezuela, to name a few.
As can be seen in the table below, the only Best Picture-winning film that’s not on a non-U.S. version of Netflix is Spotlight, which makes sense as it hasn’t been released for the home-entertainment market yet.
|Year||Movie||Available US?||Available elsewhere?|
|2013||12 Years a Slave||No||Yes, Japan and South Korea|
|2012||Argo||No||Yes, Afghanistan and 115 others|
|2011||The Artist||No||Yes, Aruba and 10 others|
|2010||The King’s Speech||No||Yes, Venezuela and 51 others|
|2009||The Hurt Locker||No||Yes, Cuba and 58 others|
|2008||Slumdog Millionaire||No||Yes, Samoa and 23 others|
|2007||No Country for Old Men||No||Yes, Guyana and 58 others|
|2006||The Departed||No||Yes, Antarctica and 34 others|
|2005||Crash||No||Yes, Suriname and 45 others|
|2004||Million Dollar Baby||No||Yes, Holy See and 3 others|
|2003||The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King||No||Yes, Azerbaijan and 131 others|
|2002||Chicago||No||Yes, Haiti and 45 others|
|2001||A Beautiful Mind||No||Yes, Norfolk Island and 21 others|
|2000||Gladiator||No||Yes, Montserrat and 45 others|
|1999||American Beauty||Yes||Yes, Bhutan and 210 others|
|1998||Shakespeare in Love||Yes||Yes, Puerto Rico and 6 others|
|1996||The English Patient||Yes||Yes, Martinique and 52 others|
The Oscar-winner limitations don’t seem to be tied to the Best Picture category either. Of the twelve films that won an Oscar in 2013, only two are listed in the U.S. Netflix library.
The two films are “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” which won an Oscar for the best short documentary, and “The Great Gatsby” which won the Oscars for best costume and best production design.
We can’t and won’t point any fingers as to the source of this availability “problem.” It might be that the studios are reluctant to put their most acclaimed titles on Netflix, or perhaps Netflix isn’t willing to pay enough.
However, the above does illustrate that in its current form, Netflix alone is certainly not going solve Hollywood’s piracy problems. This is an important note, as Netflix is by far the most popular consumption platform for films and TV-shows.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether there are 12 or 12,000 legal video platforms in a country. More services may actually mean that it becomes less convenient for consumers, as long as the content is scattered.