This Millennium’s Best Picture Oscar Winners Are Not On Netflix

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A recent study commissioned by Hollywood shows that with 120 legal online services, movies and TV-shows are more accessible than ever before. Unfortunately, however, content remains scattered and the dominant streaming service Netflix doesn't have any of the best picture Oscar winners of this century in its U.S. catalog.

netfAn 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.

Best Picture Oscar Winners on Netflix? (April 2016)

Year Movie Available US? Available elsewhere?
2015 Spotlight No No
2014 Birdman No Yes, Canada
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
1997 Titanic No Yes, Canada
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.


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