2013’s 3rd Quarter Continues to Show Strong Growth in Online Movies and TV Shows Around the World

by Julia Jenks 11/26/2013 12:17 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

If it seems that every day there is a new development in the world of streaming movies and TV shows online, that’s because it’s true.  The uber-competitive online distribution market continues to add viewing options on a regular basis. 

At this very moment we are aware of over 410 unique online services around the world offering legitimate full-length films and TV shows to consumers, including more than 60 multi-country services like iTunes and Netflix.  And here in the U.S. alone there are now over 95 services available for consumers.  These include ones that have been highlighted before like Fandor, Amazon, Hulu and HBO GO, and also new services like the one that debuted last month from retail-giant, Target: Target Ticket lets you rent or purchase new releases and classic movies and TV shows.  You can find a growing list of all these different services that are now available on the MPAA’s site, www.WhereToWatch.org

But Target Ticket isn’t the only development in digital content that occurred during this year’s third quarter.  A new subscription online streaming service, Presto, will launch later this year in Australia and offer both current hits and favorite classic titles licensed to the Foxtel Movies channel, which includes the best that all of the major studios and key independents have to offer. And earlier this year Disney Media Distribution announced an agreement with Tencent’s Hollywood VIP, a Netflix-style VOD streaming service available throughout China, to provide live action and animated feature films from Marvel Studios, Pixar Studios and Walt Disney Studios. 

Other noteworthy developments that occurred since last quarter include: the expansion of Netflix’s operations into the Netherlands; VDIO announced its expansion into Canada just two months after its launch in the U.S. and U.K.; and iTunes announced in August the latest territorial expansion of its ‘iTunes Movies in the Cloud’ service to 8 new countries:  Austria, Estonia, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Switzerland.

Audiences around the world have an ever-expanding array of innovative options for viewing online.  And innovations in this area show no signs of slowing, whether in the form of new services, new geographies, and new content or new features.

Debunking some major flaws in the LSE media brief on the impact of piracy

by Julia Jenks 10/07/2013 14:13 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Last week, the London School of Economics released a media policy brief suggesting that piracy isn’t harming the creative industries and in fact, may be helpful.  Unfortunately, the paper includes no new data and the authors’ arguments include some fundamental scientific flaws that undermine the paper’s credibility.  (This isn’t the first brief with these kinds of flaws that we’ve seen from these authors.)

Here’s our point-by-point look at some of the key flawed claims in the current brief.

Claim: Creative industry revenues are not declining (…therefore piracy isn’t doing any harm).

Reality: This argument, while common, is unsophisticated and misleading.  Apart from issues with whether the brief analyzes revenues correctly, from a scientific standpoint you cannot simply look at revenues either increasing or decreasing at the most general level and deduce the specific impact of piracy.  So many factors go into determining an industry’s topline annual revenue; the most obvious example being which films were released that year and how well did they do?  The success and popularity of creative content varies from year to year.  In order to isolate the impact of piracy, more sophisticated analysis is required.  You have to address the counterfactual question “what would sales have been in the absence of piracy?”  The real question is not whether the creative industries’ sales are up or down in a given year, but what the industries would have achieved without the damaging effects of piracy.

The majority of objective academic studies – particularly those published in top peer reviewed journals – that specifically address this question have found that piracy harms media sales. 

Claim: The Hadopi program in France has been ineffective.

Reality: The brief focuses on the Hadopi program in France and does not provide a balanced picture of the impact of Hadopi. The French Government is not abolishing Hadopi, it is simply making some changes to the way it is administered. The brief mentions the empirical, peer-reviewed evidence that consumer awareness of Hadopi increased digital sales while crediting this impact to the “education component of Hadopi,” as if that impact could be divorced from consumer awareness of the implementation of the entire Hadopi program.  (Incidentally, the first version of the brief the authors released actually came to the opposite conclusion of the paper they cited.  The original language on page 11, citation 22 read:

It has subsequently been edited and updated to read:

-- a significant change in findings.)

In fact, the evidence cited specifically states that the effects of the education campaigns “cannot be separated from the effects of the graduated response/penalty portion of the law, and our study must be about the combined effect of any and all education campaigns combined with the warningand penalty system.”

The brief also cites the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre report on online music consumption in order to underscore its point about Hadopi.  Unfortunately, that report is unreliable for the purpose of assessing how piracy impacts music sales because the methodology is missing a model or “experiment” that would help identify the key counterfactual: what would music sales have been in the absence of piracy? The report is structured to produce only a correlative, not a causal answer – consumers’ “taste for music” is partly unobserved in this study, but highly correlated with both legal purchase and piracy activity, creating a positive bias that actually makes it surprising the results are not more strongly positive.  In other words, the results from this paper would be more correctly stated as “people who like music tend to pirate more and visit iTunes more than people who don’t like music.”  While their data suggests this to be true, this result does not lead to the conclusion that piracy does not harm sales – in fact, most peer-reviewed research suggests that these same people who like music would be consuming more legally if piracy were not available to them.

Claim: The culture of online sharing is incompatible with strong copyright protection for creative works.

Reality:  This brief highlights a few examples of increased use of crowd-sourcing, crowd-funding and creative commons licenses to argue that exclusive ownership of intellectual works is not the only incentive that sustains their production, claiming that the use of exclusive rights ‘privileges copyright owners over these creators’. This assertion is unsubstantiated and reveals a bias against the whole concept of copyright.

The use of creative commons licenses and the application of exclusive copyright are not mutually exclusive concepts. It is up to the creator of a work to determine how they exercise their intellectual property rights – those who wish to make their work available under creative commons licenses are free to do so, as are those who choose to exercise their right to benefit from the commercial sale of their work.  Creators and audiences alike benefit from the creator’s right to choose how best to share their work. 


Online infringement is a complicated problem, and finding solutions will require every player in the Internet ecosystem to come to the table willing to take meaningful steps to help ensure that everyone plays by the same rules online.  The creators and makers who work hard to make the movies, TV shows and movies you love deserve to be compensated for their work – and audiences deserve more choice online.  That’s why the film and television industry is calling on all stakeholders – media companies, ISPs, ad networks, search engines, payment processors and more – to work together to find meaningful solutions to protect an Internet that works for everyone.

The Rush of New Online Movies and TV Shows Continues Worldwide

by Julia Jenks 08/13/2013 05:30 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

There is good news for film and television fans around the world who now have more ways than ever before to watch their favorite movies and shows online through their smart TV sets, mobile devices and computers. More than 400 unique online services around the world offer legitimate full-length films and TV shows, including more than 55 multi-country services like iTunes and Netflix. This includes nearly 90 services in the United States highlighted on the MPAA’s www.WheretoWatch.org.

If you are not familiar with WhereToWatch, I’d urge you to check it out. Try out sites like CanIStream.it, GoWatchit.com, or fan.tv where you can type in the name of a movie or TV show you want to watch and get linked to sites where it can be viewed and downloaded online, or even viewed in theaters or purchased on DVD and Blu-Ray. Or browse through the full list of online viewing sites on WhereToWatch that include well-known names in this space such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon and Hulu; and start-up services like Fandor, Popcorn Flix or Snag Films, where your choices run from foreign films including Bollywood favorites, to all genres of independent films, to eye-opening documentaries.

Some of the noteworthy new developments in the second quarter of this year include the growth of the video-streaming website Viki.com, which features movies and TV shows from around the world, with subtitles translated into dozens of languages. Whether you want to see the latest Telenovela from Venezuela, Korean K-Pop or watch the sci-fi series Falling Skies in China, Viki is seeking to match growing worldwide demand.

And there are other great developments as well: Netflix is expanding to the Netherlands, and possibly France and Belgium in the coming months, according to press reports; iTunes is expanding its iCloud services for movies and TV shows into a number of new countries; and here in the U.S., Target Ticket from retail giant Target will provide instant online access to 15,000 titles including new releases, classic films, and “next day TV” shows.

And, as you read this post on whatever device you’re currently using – laptop, tablet, or mobile phone –somewhere in the world there is undoubtedly someone hard at work developing another new service with someone like you in mind.

Bottom line, there are now more options to watch more content on more devices in an easily accessible format than at any time in the history of the Internet, and those numbers are only going to continue to grow.

A Snapshot of Some State Specific 2012 Box Office Data

by Julia Jenks 03/21/2013 14:31 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Earlier today the MPAA released its 2012 Theatrical Market Statistics Report, presenting a global snapshot of the box office, attendance, and film release trends for the film industry in 2012. As Senator Dodd pointed out in today’s release, both global and domestic box office are up compared to last year, driven by increased attendance. 2012 was a great year for moviegoing. For a deeper dive and access to the full report, click here.

This year, for the first time, we offer some additional analysis that sheds light on which states have the most eager moviegoing audiences. We analyzed the behavior of those who saw one or more movie(s) in 2012, referred to as “moviegoers”, in the 10 most populous states in the country.  We looked at the 10 most populous states in order to ensure that the sample is large enough to provide reliable data.

We found that among those 10 states, Illinois has the highest percentage of moviegoers, at 74% of their population, well above the national average of 68%. In second place is California, with 73% of their population earning moviegoer status and closely following, is Texas with 72% of the Lone Star state population going to the movies at least once last year.

Among the 10 most populous states, these particular three states have the highest percentage of frequent moviegoers, as well. Frequent moviegoers are defined as moviegoers who attend one or more movie(s) per month. The California population in this case ranks the highest, with 22% of Californians qualifying as frequent moviegoers, followed by Illinois at 21% and Texas at 18%. All three are well above the national average, which is 13% of the population.

Finally, we analyzed which states have the highest total number of moviegoers overall. California, by a significant margin, tops this category with 26.8 million moviegoers in 2012. Texas is second at 17.9 million and New York is third at 12.6 million. The graphs below detail all of the information we have just described and more, providing valuable context for these figures.

This year’s additional state information serves as an important reminder that the film and television industry has far reaching economic and cultural implications. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe contribute to creating the finished produced seen by billions, and as today’s report confirms, a wide variety of people in different places across the country love going to the movies.  

Assessing the Evidence: “Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload”

by Julia Jenks 11/30/2012 14:11 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

An abstract released recently by researchers in Europe has gotten some blogger attention for suggesting that box office revenue for some films may be down since Megaupload shut down in January.  Today, Julia Jenks, head of research here at the MPAA, is breaking down some of the serious methodological gaps in the abstract and notes that its flimsy findings raise far more questions than they answer. 

Assessing the Evidence: “Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload”

Researchers at the Munich School of Management and the Copenhagen Business Schoolrecently posted a two page summary abstract on the Social Science Research Network entitled “Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload” that has caught the attention of some bloggers.  While independent review of the academic literature has shown that the vast majority of it, particularly the literature published in the top peer reviewed journals, finds evidence that piracy harms media sales (for more on that literature, see: “Assessing the Academic Literature Regarding the Impact of Media Piracy on Sales”), some bloggers have focused on a seemingly contrary conclusion from this new abstract, regarding box office revenue in time periods before and after the Megaupload website shutdown in January 2012. 

The reality is that it is impossible to evaluate the validity of the approach or the reliability of the conclusions based solely on the abstract, which does not fully present the methodology or results of the study. In fact, in its present form, this summary abstract raises more questions than it answers, including:

Are the conclusions being presented and interpreted correctly? From the two page abstract it is unclear, for example, which results are or are not statistically significant, what are the definitions for the variables in the statistical tables, and whether and how the results differ for the films that showed on more than 500 screens, which the authors suggest experienced a positive box office effect post the shutdown.  Specifically, the regression tables seem to indicate that the Megaupload shutdown caused an increase in box office revenue for movies that were shown on more than 500 screens (which is a large number of films), but the tables are unclear and could also be interpreted as also showing an increase in sales for all films after the Megaupload shutdown.3  

Which system was used for “matching” like movies? The abstract’s conclusions rest on the assumption that it is possible to create a “matched” control group of movies from the time period prior to January 2012 (pre shutdown), which accurately predict the potential box office performance of similar movies in the post January 2012 time period (post shut down) had the Megaupload shutdown not happened.  This is an extremely difficult proposition, even with the most sophisticated econometric techniques, particularly for specialty films4 – or there would be no box office surprises.  In this case, it’s impossible to assess the validity of the control group without information about the matching technique and methodology, and the actual matching factors.  The only potential factor visible, genre, is very weak.  In fact, it is well known in both the industry and peer-reviewed academic literature that box office revenue is affected by a myriad of both observable and unobservable characteristics (e.g. audience taste).

How does the research account for box office trends independent of the Megaupload shutdown? The “matching movies” approach taken seems to assume that the only thing that changed in terms of box office for films in the time period, covering the last five years, was the Megaupload shutdown. The authors do state that they did some testing of alternative shutdown dates, but they provide no information on how this was performed or whether this adequately accounted for other changes in box office revenue over the last five years that are unrelated to the Megaupload shutdown.  Box office trends not accounted for in the estimation and independent of Megaupload being shut down would lead to a different set of conclusions.

As currently presented, the conclusions in this abstract are not clear or compelling.  We hope that when the final paper is released, these and other related questions are addressed, and a detailed methodological description provided, so that it will be possible to interpret the conclusions presented, and evaluate their reliability.  


1Christian Peukert, a Ph.D. student at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Institute for Strategy, Technology and Organization, and Jörg Claussen, a post-doctoral researcher at Copenhagen Business School - Department of Innovation and Organizational Economics.

2The abstract erroneously cites the academic paper Assessing the Academic Literature Regarding the Impact of Media Piracy on Sales,” as stating that “privacy [sic] negatively impacts sales.” 

3Films that are shown on more than 500 screens are a large and important universe.  According to Box Office Mojo, the data source used, all 100 of the top 100 films, and more than 150 films in total, released in the U.S. in 2011 were shown on more than 500 screens.* Given that the total sample of movies in the study (1,344) works out to about 270 films per year, this suggests that in certain years films that were shown in more than 500 screens may actually be a majority of the sample, more than 50% of the total.  *Box Office Mojo actually presents “theaters” not “screens,” but since the Munich paper uses Box Office Mojo and presents the information as “screens” we’re using the same nomenclature. 

4e.g. Films showing on 500 or fewer screens.

Categories: Content Protection, Copyright


More and More Ways to Watch Legitimate Films and Television Shows Online

by Julia Jenks 07/07/2011 07:23 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The worldwide demand for online video is enormous and ever-increasing.  The digital measurement company comScore recently reported that 176 million U.S. Internet users watched online videos on their computers in May, engaging in a total of 5.7 billion viewing sessions. Unfortunately, much of the viewing of movie and television content is occurring on illegitimate websites, but today, there are more options than ever before to get movies and TV shows online safely and legitimately – the list just keeps getting longer – and many of them are now among the most popular online viewing destinations.

These services offer every type of viewing, whether ad-supported, rentals, download-to-own purchasing or subscription viewing – and they are offered by many different providers, including technology companies like Apple and Roxio; television networks like ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, and The CW and cable networks like Bravo, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, and FX; pay television channels like Epix and HBO; television providers like Dish; telecommunications companies like AT&T and Comcast; retailers and rentailers like Amazon, Blockbuster, Netflix, and Sears; video gaming companies like Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox; and new ventures devoted entirely to this space like Crackle, Fandor, Hulu, mSpot, and Vudu (which is now owned by Wal-Mart). Internet company YouTube, the top viewing site based on comScore’s measurement, recently announced that it has reached agreement with studios to add more movies to its streaming movie rental service.

Providers are racing to embed their online services – in some cases with High Definition video – into the majority of Internet-enabled electronics, including high definition televisions, Blu-ray players, set-top-boxes, and gaming consoles, which means they are available not only to those watching on their computers, but people watching on their home television screens. And studios are working to ensure that downloading is a simple, uniform experience, where digital video purchased at any outlet can be played anywhere, as they work with technology companies and online providers to develop services such as UltraViolet and Disney Studio All Access.

This all goes to show that when technology, innovation, and a little movie magic come together, the world gets more entertaining for all of us. If you enjoy watching videos online, there’s no time like the present. 



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