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Netflix vs iTunes for Movies You'd Actually Watch

We only recently started using Netflix to stream movies here at Goodfilms HQ, and we were surprised just how hard it is to find something decent to watch. When you do find one, the experience is excellent, but the number of movies that don’t interest me got me thinking - how much of their library is stuff I’d want to watch?

Goodfilms already integrates with iTunes to tell you what’s available for streaming, and at what price, so we thought we’d do a bit of a head to head. For those of you not familiar with our rating system, we have two axes: Quality and Rewatchability. A classic film (e.g. The Godfather) rates highly in both so will be up in the top-right, something fun but not particularly clever (e.g. Zoolander) will be up around the top, and something well-made but harrowing (e.g. Black Swan) will tend to be along the right hand side.

Click through to the graph at goodfil.ms/graph to explore.

Here you see the average ratings of the most popular films on Goodfilms (~1150 films at the time of writing), and you can filter down by whether they’re available on iTunes or Netflix. Click on the posters for links to start streaming them. Note: we’re only looking at the Netflix library in the US for now, but the data for iTunes should be for your region’s store.

The numbers

At the time of writing, Netflix has around 9300 films currently available for streaming in the US, but less than 150 of them appear on the graph. What that means is, for films that are popular on Goodfilms, there’s only a 12% chance they’re available on Netflix Instant. Or, to put in another way, people are watching only 1.5% of the films on Netflix Instant.

Contrast that to iTunes, which in the US has 730 films in the popular set - almost two-thirds! That gives it 5 times more films that most people are watching. According to our data, it has a similarly-sized total film count to Netflix, weighing in at over 11000. Flipping the calculation as we did previously, our users are watching just over 6% of iTunes’ offering. Still lower than we were expecting, but significantly higher than Netflix.

Caveats

We want to be clear that we’re not calling Netflix or iTunes out for the quality of their offerings. They have entirely different business models and constraints to consider. We just wanted to present some data to show the massive gulf in what’s available between the biggest transactional and subscription video-on-demand offerings right now.

As the Goodfilms dataset grows, there’ll be more activity in the ‘long tail’ of content, so these percentages will increase. And we’ll be keeping on top of new films being released by each service, as well as integrating more services like Hulu Plus and Amazon in the future. You can always get an up-to-date view on the situation at goodfil.ms/explore.

Choose something to watch

The point of all this is to find something decent to watch, of course, so we built a couple of things to help. To get a full list of the films on Netflix, ranked by popularity, go to goodfil.ms/films/on_netflix. For the same on iTunes, hit goodfil.ms/films/on_itunes.

If you’re a Goodfilms user already, you can filter what’s in your queue by Netflix (goodfil.ms/queue/netflix) or iTunes (goodfil.ms/queue/itunes).

We hope this helps you avoid the duds and find films you’ll enjoy.

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