Amazon Prime Video wins the volume and quality game, but Netflix library was more popular at the box office
Netflix may be one of the biggest video on demand powerhouses in the industry at 60+ million US subscribers, but 2019 saw competition stiffen as new services joined the market and competitors improved their content offerings. Disney+ launched in November 2019, making its library of classic and popular films available under as single offering that can also be bundled with Hulu at a price point competitive with Netflix.
Current subscriber numbers for Disney+ and Hulu are both north of 28 million. Amazon spent billions on its video streaming service in 2019, adding both breadth and depth their movie selection. Since launching in 2007, the service has more than 40 million subscribers and some analysts predict it could grow to 61.4 million by 2024.
But who truly has the best content? Critics and the box office tell a different story.
In order to analyze the quality of movies on each service, we turned to Rotten Tomatoes current list of Certified Fresh movies and world-wide box office receipts to evaluate the films. Using a combination of data from Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, and streaming service providers we analyzed the movie libraries of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO NOW, and Disney+ to see how the streaming services’ movie libraries compare. We also added four of the top free streaming services – Vudu, Kanopy, IMDBtv, and Crackle – to our analysis to give consumers a better sense of the market. We also limited our analysis to English language films.
Here’s what we found.*
Movie Library Size
Library size isn’t even a contest. Amazon has more films than every other service combined. Its 12,103 English language film library is 6x the size of its closest paid competitor, Netflix, and 3.5x the library of its closest free competitor, Vudu.
But Amazon includes user uploads in its list of titles, many of which are of poor quality relative to the rest of their studio produced counterparts.
Movie Library Quality
Even when you account for quality, Amazon still comes out ahead. They lead the pack with more Certified Fresh movies (299) than any other streaming service. Here the playing field is rather tight, with Netflix only trailing by 57 titles and Kanopy, the library-funded classic and indie film streaming service, falling 79 titles behind.
The genre breakout shows that Dramas dominate the field, with Comedy films coming in a close second. In both categories Amazon maintains its lead over Netflix, leading 198 to 138 in Drama and 82 to 76 in Comedy.
Netflix begins to beat out Amazon when it comes to Action, Romance, Sci-Fi, and Family films.
Disney+ shines most in the Sci-Fi and Family genres. Star Wars and Marvel movies account for 81% of the Certified Fresh films in the Sci-Fi category for Disney+.
MPA ratings tell a similar story – with R rated films dominating the Certified Fresh ranking across all services.
However, in the family-friendly rating range (G to PG-13) Disney+ earns the top spot (80 films) with Netflix coming in a close second (73 films).
Movie Library Popularity
While Certified Fresh represents the vote of film industry experts, box office receipts indicate films that have mass appeal. When you look at the previous earnings of films available on each streaming service the winners become clear.
Netflix beats both Amazon and Disney+, making available titles that earned $40B at the Box Office. On a per film basis, no one does better than Disney+:
|Service||Box Office Per Film||Service Type|
We also see services like HBO and the Sony owned Crackle do extremely well here, suggesting that access to movies popular in the Box Office also translates into streaming demand.
Over the past year, the race for the streaming service crown has intensified. While Netflix appears to have maintained its position at the top, both Amazon and Disney+ have closed the gap and positioned themselves as serious contenders in the movie streaming landscape.
*All data is current as of Feb 27, 2019.