NetFlix New Zealand vs NetFlix USA Library Comparisons

The research team at NZRS thought it might be nice to present something on this blog that is different to what we would normally present, but something topical for the Internet in New Zealand all the same.

Netflix launched in New Zealand and Australia in March 2015. This was a much anticipated event though undoubtedly the USA based service was already popular within New Zealand evinced by entire ISPs offering services to circumvent geo-blocking, and indeed their continued use after Netflix launch. Netflix were certainly not the first in the New Zealand market; QuickFlix were an early comer in 2012 with a hybrid subscription and digital rental model, as were Apple with a pay per view model. Lightbox entered the market in 2014 aggressively building its content offering with a subscription based service.

While typically NZRS is concerned with the lower layers of the Internet and infrastructure, the introduction of streaming video on demand services into the market has driven Internet usage in New Zealand. A noticeable 'blip' in Internet traffic was observed by Chorus from March 2015 with a 40% increase in traffic at aggregation points. This happened to coincide with the launch of Netflix in New Zealand and Vodafone offering a six month free trial of the service and Lightbox being offered free to Spark customers for 12 months. New Zealand's two largest ISPs were both enabling free video on demand services to their customers.

The research team at Chorus have provided information on data usage and connection speeds.

Average User Bitrate and Average Connection Speed

It seems that video on demand services in New Zealand are influencing infrastructure use in New Zealand both in terms of impact on aggregation and positively on the deployment of content delivery infrastructure(CDN) to bring content closer to the consumer and aggregation points.

It's been clear that the services are different between New Zealand and the USA but to what extent had not been revealed specifically by Netflix. It should be noted this was very much a point in time analysis and it must be apparent to Netflix New Zealand subscribers that new content is being added all the time.

The code and data used in the analysis below of the Netflix libraries is made available both through the NZRS Github account and the interactive charts in this blog post. Below each of the charts is a link to the data and ways of using the charts. You can embed the charts either statically or interactively in other pages or presentations. Feel free to play and provide feedback or criticism.

Catalogue Size

During June 2015 we logged into Netflix from within New Zealand and the USA and observed the content that was available in each region. From each page the titles offered by the service in the two geographic regions were recorded and stored. From this NZRS were able to apply some analysis to the content available between the two geographic services. There are limitations to the analysis and NZRS will point these out; however it gives us a starting point to create an understanding and test the relevance of content analysis.

With our initial analysis we are working with titles, not episodes. A long running TV series still counts as one title regardless of the number of episodes. We're comfortable with this as a starting point.

When observed in June 2015 the USA service was about three times the size of the New Zealand service in terms of titles: A bit over 4,300 titles in the USA library and a bit over 1,400 in the New Zealand library.

Netflix Library Comparison- USA vs NZ - June 2015

Uniqueness of Content

We were able to look at the uniqueness of the content on offer. Was New Zealand merely a subset of the US service or was there a uniqueness, possibly a Kiwi flavour, and possibly more British and Australian content?

From what we could see the overlap of content shared between the New Zealand and US libraries was quite small. Around 33% of content in the New Zealand library was available in the US library, this means that a full two thirds of the titles in the New Zealand library are not available in the US service. The New Zealand service is clearly not a subset of the US service, though there is a large amount of content that is available in the US service and not available on the New Zealand service.

Unique to NZ, Common Between NZ and USA, Unique to USA

We can also look at how many titles are of New Zealand origin. Percentage wise the New Zealand service is better represented with Kiwi content. Though it was the same in count as the US at 21 apiece.

Netflix - Count of Titles with Country of Origin as New Zealand via IMDb

How does Content Rate

We tried to look at the quality of the content on offer on both services. Quality is subjective and not easily measured like something physical. We turned towards scores and ratings as our proxy of quality.

Since Netflix shut down its public API in 2012 this meant we did not have an easy way of looking at the Netflix rankings. We instead looked towards the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). While IMDb make available alternative interfaces to their data (http://www.imdb.com/interfaces/) we chose instead to use a third party tool the Open Movie Database(OMDB) :). This gave us access to a lot of useful data that is in IMDb. We used the ratings from IMDb as a proxy for quality. The two main considerations are:

  • This represents scores from IMDb users not Netflix users whose tastes and preferences may be different
  • We could only match around 90% of titles using the OMDB RESTful API.

We rounded down the IMDb ratings into bins (for example a 9.6 would appear as a 9-10). From this we could see a quality distribution. It seems the New Zealand service has a higher percentage of higher rated content when using IMDb as the benchmark.

Netflix - IMDb scores - US and NZ June 2015 - Percentage of of Titles

We can look at what the top titles are across the two services using the IMDb ratings.

NZ and US Service Top 20

NZ ServiceUS Service
RankMovie NameIMDb ScoreMovie NameIMDb Score
1 The Shawshank Redemption 9.3 Generation Earth 9.1
2 Human Planet 9.3 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 9.1
3 Frozen Planet 9.3 Long Way Round 9.1
4 Firefly 9.2 Tomb Raider 9.1
5 The Godfather 9.2 Top Gear 9.0
6 Greg Fleet: Thai Die 9.2 North & South 9.0
7 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 9.1 Death Note 9.0
8 The Godfather: Part II 9.1 The Life of Birds 9.0
9 Arrested Development 9.1 Friends 9.0
10 Freaks and Geeks 9.0 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic 9.0
11 Chef's Table 9.0 Chef's Table 9.0
12 Top Gear 9.0 Dexter 8.9
13 North & South 9.0 Pulp Fiction 8.9
14 Doctor Who 8.9 Attack on Titan 8.9
15 Fight Club 8.9 Charlie Don't Surf 8.9
16 Horrible Histories 8.9 Slugterra: Slug Fu Showdown 8.8
17 Fawlty Towers 8.9 Andaz Apna Apna 8.8
18 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 8.9 Aerial America 8.8
19 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 8.9 The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall 8.8
20 Forensic Files 8.8 Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy 8.8

In looking at the ratings we can see one small error, the API has picked up the rating of the 2013 video game 'Tomb Raider'. The 2001 movie actually had a rating of 5.7.

We can also look at what the overlap is.

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Chef's Table
  • Top Gear
  • North & South

So we have four overlaps in the top 20. This reinforces the difference between the available libraries.

The Bieber Effect

We can look at the bottom titles on the NZ and US Netflix. Looking at the bottom title on each, both have a common feature.

On the New Zealand service with an IMDb rating of 1.6 we have 'Justin Bieber : Never Say Never'.

Movie poster of Justin Bieber's - Never Say Never

[1]

On the US service we with an IMBd rating of 1.1 we have 'Biebermania'.

Movie poster of Justin Bieber's - Biebermania

[1]

Age of Content

We decided to have a look at the age of content. New Zealand does not seem to have have as high of a percentage of recent content as the US service. We can see the differences in the chart below.

Netflix - Year of Titles First Release - US and NZ June 2015 - Percentage

Actors

What actors do New Zealand get bridled with? Is there a difference? As we have different libraries we should expect a difference.

The actors appearing in the most titles in the New Zealand library are:

NZ ServiceUS Service
RankActor NameNumber of Titles with Actor NameActor NameNumber of Titles with Actor Name
1 Adam Sandler 10 Samuel L. Jackson 12
2 Johnny Depp 9 Eddie Murphy 10
3 Mel Gibson 8 Jeff Bennett 10
4 Christopher Walken 7 Ewan McGregor 9
5 Sylvester Stallone 7 Nicolas Cage 9
6 Nicolas Cage 7 Julianne Moore 9
7 Mike Myers 6 Arnold Schwarzenegger 9
8 Burt Young 6 David A.R. White 8
9 Morgan Freeman 6 Nicole Kidman 8
10 Tom Hanks 6 Laura Bailey 8
11 Denzel Washington 6 Cam Clarke 8
12 Angelina Jolie 6 Jean-Claude Van Damme 7
13 Josh Lucas 6 Christopher Lloyd 7
14 Talia Shire 6 Lucy Liu 7
15 Dustin Hoffman 5 Jim Cummings 7
16 Jason Statham 5 Danny Glover 7
17 Alec Baldwin 5 Debi Derryberry 7
18 Al Pacino 5 Tommy Lee Jones 7
19 Justin Bartha 5 Cary Grant 7
20 Ashleigh Ball 5 Sam Neill 7

A quick scan suggests the New Zealand actor most represented is Sam Neill in the Netflix US library.

At the end of the day we're still number 1.

[1] Source: [The Internet Movie Database](http://imdb.com)