Oscar Powers Netflix's Top Ten Most-Rented List

by Anne Thompson
October 3, 2011 11:09 AM
4 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood
Netflix's ten most-rented list of all time (list below) reminds us of the long-tail Power of Oscar. And it should remind Netflix, as it splits its DVD and streaming business and alienates many of its customers who are used to relying on its deep long-tail arcania, that their solid customer base is smart adults, not the great unwashed, something they seem to be in danger of forgetting as they focus on TV and mainstream acquisitions and let smaller movies go.

10. No Country for Old Men
9. Iron Man
8. Inception
7. Sherlock Holmes
6. The Departed
5. The Hurt Locker
4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
3. The Bucket List
2. Crash
1. The Blind Side

Many of us in the indie sector thought that Netflix had the right stuff to become the Last Great Hope for indie distribution with their recommendation software and in-depth library of titles. But unfortunately they floundered when Red Envelope tentatively entered indie releasing with such micro titles as The Puffy Chair. Now it seems that what worked to build them up--starting with early adopters and ardent film fans--isn't what they think they need going forward.

Watch this interview with Netflix's Ted Sarandos on streaming, below.

Ted Sarandos of Netflix on the Shift from DVDs to Streaming Movies from Scott Kirsner on Vimeo.

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4 Comments

  • Anne Thompson | October 4, 2011 8:51 AMReply

    Clearly, Oscar grants must-see status to quality adult films many people would otherwise not check out. But Netflix built its customer base on fans of many small films, and it disturbs me that they are willing to ditch them in order to favor fans of fewer big films and TV shows. They're behaving like Blockbuster! Why can't they go the extra mile to please ALL of their customers? Is that so hard? And I agree with Dana Harris that ditching the queue in the streaming arena is a very bad idea.

  • Brian | October 4, 2011 7:33 AMReply

    I'd be a lot more thrilled about this list if the Oscar Winners on it included THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, CASABLANCA, REBECCA, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, ON THE WATERFRONT, THE APARTMENT, BEN-HUR, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, PATTON, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, ANNIE HALL, etc. You get the idea.

  • Evan | October 4, 2011 6:42 AMReply

    "Their solid customer base is smart adults, not the great unwashed, something they seem to be in danger of forgetting as they focus on TV and mainstream acquisitions and let smaller movies go."

    I wish this were correct, but I don't think it is... maybe early adopters were "smart adults" watching Netflix's "arcania," but now Netflix's rosters are filled with the same masses that used to go to the neighborhood VCR rental store.

    Yes, there are Oscar films in the Top 10, but there are also... er... let's say "less-than-intellectually-rigorous" entries like The Bucket List and Sherlock Holmes. And the Oscar films that are on the list are not surprisingly the most populous ones. There's a reason that Crash, The Departed, No Country for Old Men, and The Blind Side are on the list and not Brokeback Mountain, Babel, There Will Be Blood, and Precious.

    Even your typical viewer-of-trash can enjoy a good film from time to time. That doesn't mean he'll love The Puffy Chair, too...

  • Tom Quinn | October 4, 2011 3:48 AMReply

    Very interesting. I have to say, that list looks as thought people built their queue a year ago and are just now working through their list of dvd's!

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