Bell’s recent characterization of Canadians using virtual private networks to access U.S. Netflix as thieves has attracted considerable attention. Yesterday, I posted on why accessing U.S. Netflix is not theft, noting that a minority of Canadian Netflix subscribers use VPNs and arguing that the frustration seems rooted in business concerns rather than legal ones. The post added that Netflix and CraveTV (Bell’s online video service) have little overlap in content. Working with Kavi Sivasothy, one of my research students, we took a closer look at the libraries of Netflix U.S., Netflix Canada, and CraveTV. We relied on AllFlicks.net for the Netflix data and CraveTV’s own A to Z page for its data.
Based on that information, how many titles does CraveTV offer that overlap with Netflix U.S. and are not available on Netflix Canada? Not many. In fact, the data suggests that there are some CraveTV titles that are not available on Netflix U.S., but are available on Netflix Canada. Overall, more than 90 percent of CraveTV’s titles are not available on either Netflix U.S. or Netflix Canada. [UPDATE: Thanks to a reader for pointing out a few omissions from the chart. The error was due to different spelling in the Netflix and CraveTV lists. The numbers have been updated].
CraveTV currently offers 403 titles. Of those, 36 are available on Netflix U.S. but not Netflix Canada. Notable titles include 30 Rock, Cheers, Everybody Loves Raymond, The West Wing, and Twin Peaks.
However, there are also eight titles that are available on CraveTV and Netflix Canada, but not the Netflix U.S. service, including Community and Homeland. Further, there are another eight programs that are available on all three services including Doctor Who, Friday Night Lights, and Weeds. A chart of the overlap between the three services:
|CraveTV and Netflix U.S.
|CraveTV and Netflix Canada
|CraveTV, Netflix U.S., Netflix Canada
Everybody Loves Raymond
Heart of Dixie
JFK – The Smoking Gun
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Star Trek – Deep Space Nine
Star Trek – Enterprise
Star Trek – The Animated Series
Star Trek – The Original Series
Star Trek – Voyager
The Escape Artist
The L Word
The Tomorrow People
The West Wing
United States of Tara
Friday Night Lights
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Based on the overlap data, VPN usage should be a minor competitive issue for CraveTV. There may be many people using it, but the numbers using VPNs to access titles that are available on CraveTV is likely to be quite small. The far bigger issue for CraveTV is the sheer size of the Netflix U.S. and Netflix Canada libraries. CraveTV has some good content, but at 403 titles it is tiny in comparison with both of those services. Netflix Canada currently lists over 3,700 shows and movies, making the number of titles in its library nine times larger than CraveTV. With over 7,300 shows and movies, Netflix U.S. is nearly twice of the size of the Canadian version, which helps explain why some Canadians seek out the greater choice.
Moreover, the services have different business models. Netflix is available to anyone with Internet access, making its content available on a wide range of devices and not requiring a television subscription. By contrast, as a Rogers subscriber at home, I cannot subscribe to CraveTV, which is available only to those with television subscriptions from certain service providers. That means CraveTV reaches only part of the Canadian market and effectively carries a much higher monthly cost than Netflix (CraveTV alone may be cheaper, but it cannot be bought on its own).