Picture taken on September 11, 2014 to illustrate the on-demand internet streaming media provider, Netflix, on the home video game console PlayStation 3 in Stockholm. The online streaming website Netflix will be launched in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg mid-September. It is already operating in Scandinavian countries. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND

Total Netflix Catalog, 2014-2016

In the music industry, streaming music users are finding it difficult to get entire catalogs in one place, thanks to a rise in platform-specific exclusives.  In the television and film industries, this is an even bigger problem: according to data reported by Netflix itself, the platform’s overall catalog has diminished nearly 32% since January of 2014.

In total, Netflix now offers 2,571 fewer titles, with roughly equivalent declines over television and movie selections.  The data was reported by Steven Lovely of AllFlicks, which tracks catalog totals worldwide.

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The may be several reasons behind the massive decline, including an acceleration in high-priced exclusives.  In the fast-growing OTT (or, ‘Over The Top’) viewing market, Netflix rivals like Hulu and Amazon Video are becoming ferocious rivals for coveted, exclusive shows.  That includes ‘Seinfeld,’ now a Hulu exclusive, and ‘Friends,’ nabbed by Netflix itself.  Toss in a slew of other platforms ranging from MGO to HBO Go, and the terrain is a fractured patchwork of content.

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The question — in television, film, and music alike — is whether that is healthy for the long-term growth of digital platforms.  In streaming music, an increase in exclusive deals, coupled with flat-out licensing refusals, have left paying music fans with lots of missing content. Ultimately, the music industry is leaving its best customers in the cold, with Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube Red, and SoundCloud Go all ponying serious cash for coveted releases.

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Unfortunately, those releases are closed off to subscribers of rival platforms, but only to an extend.  Always hovering on the sidelines is piracy, with torrenting and illegal streaming platforms a relatively easy next step.  In television, those threats also exist, with pirate video platforms reaching scary levels of sophistication.

Outside of coveted exclusives, the question is whether overall catalog size really matters.  Indeed, Netflix has been incredibly aggressive and successful in its homegrown content, with smashes like House of Cards commanding massive viewership.  That is also happening across a number of other channels and platforms, including Amazon Video, and suggests a digital version of old, channel-based content creation machines in television.

Sadly, streaming music platforms rarely finance the development of new music content.

 

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