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Netflix Searches Soaring Says Google

DVD, torrent searches taking a serious dive

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It’s not news that Netflix is crushing its competition within the world of streaming video.  Almost a third of all paid streamed content in America is provided by Netflix.  It’s iron grip on the competition might become even stronger with the announced foray into the original content arena.

It’s also not news that Netflix is changing the way people watch movies.  And the rise of a major streaming service is of course going to cut into the market share of hard-copy options like DVDs and Blu-rays.  But new internal search data from Google paints a pretty bleak picture for Hollywood and their reliance on DVD sales as a major source of revenue.

BTIG Research analyzed a research note published by Google earlier this month and found that searches for Netflix are shooting through the roof.  On the other hand, DVD related queries like “New Releases DVD,” “Movies on DVD,” “DVD rentals” and just plain “DVD” are very low in volume – and declining.  So if you go by search, the DVD is on its way to the grave, and going there fast.

A couple of notes about the entire BTIG report, from All Things Digital:

  • Google says query volume for “Netflix” peaked in February 2011, but grew more than 90 percent in both 2010 and 2009.
  • That growth isn’t simply a result of Netflix adding more subscribers–it’s the result of Netflix subscribers using the Web more frequently. Google says queries per subscriber grew more than 40 percent last year, presumably as people looked to see what they could stream.
  • DVD sales finally peaked in 2007, but Google queries kept climbing through 2008. Google’s explanation for this is confusing: “The shift in online behavior driven by the increased ability to buy and research DVDs via the Internet compensated for the decreased desire to own physical DVDs. The result was strong growth in search activity for terms including ‘DVDs,’ ‘new movies on DVD,’ ‘new DVD releases,’ among related other generic DVD terms.”

From the looks of this, Hollywood is going to have to fully embrace the world of streaming video.  The most recent discussion of this is with Premium Video on Demand, the $30 a pop service where major studios are offering not-yet-on-DVD films to families for a hefty price.  The availability and affordability of streaming content has grown in the past couple of years, and movie-watchers have embraced the change.  It looks as though physical possession of films is not that important anymore, and if that trend continues the DVD is destined to quickly go the way of the CD.

One of the more interesting things about the above chart is the sharp decline in “Free Movie” terms that includes searches for torrents.  In no way do I think movie downloading in on the decline.  This decline in search probably just means that people aren’t searching for places to find torrents.  They already have sites that they trust, and they start from there when searching for a specific torrent file.

Netflix Searches Soaring Says Google
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  • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

    I’m almost convinced to go out and buy a PS3 to hook up Netflix… It’s annoying that you have to stream through 3rd party hardware.

  • http://CatchTheWaveTV.com Mike Smith

    I really don’t think the trend is towards Netflix streaming, because it has a very limited selection of movies so far – not worth even $7.99 per month. I have over 20 movies in my Netflix queue, most of them movies older than two years, and only two are available in streaming. The Google searches must represent people looking for movies online, but in fact the best movie libraries are still Netflix by DVD and Amazon (the latter because it has newer movies because you pay more for them).

  • http://briarpatchgiftshop.com/ Joe H

    We have been using a $50 Roku box and a $9.99 account with netflix for about 6 months, in the last 30 days we have watched 40-45 streamed movies, 70-80 streamed TV series, and 2 movies a week on DVD by mail. I figure that to be about $0.10 per viewing. With my high speed DSL 1.5 MGB for $19.00 per month i run a wireless network (2 computers, 1 printer, 1 Roku box) In short $30 per month does it all. I have canceled that $75 dish TV service. This will be the future for home entertainment, in order for anyone to compete they have to cut prices. We now control what we watch not some large company that owns all the TV stations. I will add the Roku HD 750 box works great don’t waste money on the 1080 p boxes they need 5.0 MGB internet service for the 1080 to work. Are picture is great on a 32 inch flat screen.

  • http://www.pleasehold.com Carlos G

    An Apple TV box is a great combo with Netflix. Especially if you have an iPhone or iPad. The Air Play feature is fantastic for viewing pictures and videos on the TV.

  • spud

    You would think that streaming video would be the cost effective way to present ALL of their content. BUT, there are very few recent steaming videos on netflix! If you want to watch something recent, odds are you need to ask for the DVD. There must be some behind the scenes licensing issues for streaming media.

  • David Patterson

    This is also why services like OnLive (on demad video games) will also continue to grow. With gas prices reaching $4 a gallon it makes more sense to get everything streamed to you….. Now if we could only do that with food and grade school public education….

  • http://freshclicks.net lary stucker

    This article completely ignores the increase in blueray sales as a possible explanation for the decline in DVD sales.

    • http://www.ientry.com/ Josh Wolford

      it’s actually about search volume and isn’t indicative of sales.

  • http://www.tabletpcunion.com tabletpcunion

    That’s not surprising. Netfix is becoming more and more popular.