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Sizing up streaming: Netflix has 400 times more movies than Apple TV+

Newcomers struggle to keep up with the streaming giants, but catalog size isn't everything.

Sizing up streaming: Netflix has 400 times more movies than Apple TV+

The size and makeup of these catalogs tell us a lot about how streaming services approach the space, and how much of an investment they've been able to make over the years.

Image: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Netflix executives received an interesting question during the company's Q3 earnings call last week: The company's streaming catalog is significantly smaller these days than it was just a few years ago, prompting Barclays Media Research Managing Director Kannan Venkateshwar to ask: "Is that deliberate? And how do you determine optimum volume? How much is too much?"

"It is true that there is less," admitted Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos. In the early days, Netflix often licensed bulk catalogs of hundreds of titles at a time, he explained. "Today, we are much more deliberate," Sadarndos said. "We really don't focus that much on the title count."

That may be true for a giant like Netflix that spends billions of dollars a year on originals. However, the size and makeup of these catalogs also tell us a lot about how streaming services approach the space, and how much of an investment they've been able to make over the years. In the end, it may not matter as much whether Netflix has 2,000 or 10,000 TV shows, but it does matter that Netflix has hundreds of times more movies than Apple TV+.

To help us size up the streaming services, Protocol got some exclusive data from Reelgood on the catalogs of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+ and the paid tier of Peacock, NBCUniversal's new streaming service. The results are fascinating, especially if you separately take a closer look at the number of movies and TV shows on each of those services.

Based on TV shows alone, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are almost head-to-head, with Hulu not far behind. Both Netflix and Amazon have for some time invested in original TV shows, and the two services have also added a lot of international TV content to their respective catalogs.

Hulu's relative strength here makes sense: It was originally conceived as a catch-up service for broadcast television, and more recently started to add exclusive programming from cable networks like FX. Disney+, on the other hand, is still a lot smaller, as a lot of its catalog is still focused on hit movies from its "Star Wars" and "MCU" franchises. Peacock, which launched just three months ago, is clearly still ramping up its catalog; HBO Max in a similar position, expanding beyond its core HBO catalog, but still far behind Netflix.

The notable outlier here is Apple TV+, which launched a year ago with a blank slate. Without any back catalog to prop up its numbers, it currently has only 31 TV shows available to U.S. viewers. Consumers often lament that they have "watched everything" on the services they subscribe to. Apple TV+ is the only service where this could conceivably be true.

Comparing the number of movies on each service gets a bit tricky, since Amazon Prime Video is such an incredible outlier. With 13,845 movies available to U.S. viewers, the service has more than 1.5 times as many titles in its catalog as all of its major competitors combined.

Early on, Amazon championed producing original movies, and unlike Netflix also embraced the industry's traditional windowing model, allowing theaters to show some of its films weeks before they appeared on the service.

Prime Video is also the only major service to embrace self-publishing. Indie studios and bedroom producers alike can upload their movies to Prime Video Direct and release them to Amazon's audience without giving up their rights, which has helped the service to significantly grow its movie catalog. The flip side of this is that Prime Video is also the only major service to host countless hours of Yoga instructionals, how-tos to "improve your boating skills" and similar fare you'd overwise find on YouTube — not exactly dangerous competition for hit shows on Netflix or Disney+.

Amazon aside, there are some surprising insights in this segment: As expected, Netflix does lead the charge, but it's worth noting that HBO Max has about 2.5 times as many movies as Disney+. Peacock, whose catalog includes the entire "Harry Potter" franchise, is also surprisingly strong, pulling ahead of both Hulu and Disney+.

The bottom spot is once again reserved for Apple TV+, which had just nine movies for U.S. audiences in October. This means that Netflix has more than 400 times as many movies available as Apple TV+.

Commenting on Netflix's own catalog, Sarandos tried to put things in perspective last week. "It turns out [a large title count] isn't that meaningful if people don't watch them. So what we have really done is concentrate on the titles that have a lot of impact and can aggregate big audiences," Sarandos said. "It's really not a chase for how many titles, but are these the titles you can't live without."

The flip side of this is that services still need to take bets and try 10 titles to find that one must-have. Taking those bets is a lot easier if you have hundreds or even thousands of titles than when your entire catalog can be counted on two hands.

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Google’s trying to build a more inclusive, less chaotic future of work

Javier Soltero, the VP of Workspace at Google, said time management is everything.

With everyone working in new places, Google believes time management is everything.

Image: Google

Javier Soltero was still pretty new to the G Suite team when the pandemic hit. Pretty quickly, everything about Google's hugely popular suite of work tools seemed to change. (It's not even called G Suite anymore, but rather Workspace.) And Soltero had to both guide his team through a new way of working and help them build the tools to guide billions of Workspace users.

This week, Soltero and his team announced a number of new Workspace features designed to help people manage their time, collaborate and get stuff done more effectively. It offered new tools for frontline workers to communicate better, more hardware for hybrid meetings, lots of Assistant and Calendar features to make planning easier and a picture-in-picture mode so people could be on Meet calls without really having to pay attention.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

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The future of computing at the edge: an interview with Intel’s Tom Lantzsch

An interview with Tom Lantzsch, SVP and GM, Internet of Things Group at Intel

An interview with Tom Lantzsch

Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corporation

Edge computing had been on the rise in the last 18 months – and accelerated amid the need for new applications to solve challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tom Lantzsch, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Internet of Things Group (IoT) at Intel Corp., thinks there are more innovations to come – and wants technology leaders to think equally about data and the algorithms as critical differentiators.

In his role at Intel, Lantzsch leads the worldwide group of solutions architects across IoT market segments, including retail, banking, hospitality, education, industrial, transportation, smart cities and healthcare. And he's seen first-hand how artificial intelligence run at the edge can have a big impact on customers' success.

Protocol sat down with Lantzsch to talk about the challenges faced by companies seeking to move from the cloud to the edge; some of the surprising ways that Intel has found to help customers and the next big breakthrough in this space.

What are the biggest trends you are seeing with edge computing and IoT?

A few years ago, there was a notion that the edge was going to be a simplistic model, where we were going to have everything connected up into the cloud and all the compute was going to happen in the cloud. At Intel, we had a bit of a contrarian view. We thought much of the interesting compute was going to happen closer to where data was created. And we believed, at that time, that camera technology was going to be the driving force – that just the sheer amount of content that was created would be overwhelming to ship to the cloud – so we'd have to do compute at the edge. A few years later – that hypothesis is in action and we're seeing edge compute happen in a big way.

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Saul Hudson
Saul Hudson has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, especially in understanding and targeting messages in cutting-edge technologies. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, in helping companies to build passionate audiences and accelerate their growth. Hudson has reported from more than 30 countries, from war zones to boardrooms to presidential palaces. He has led multinational, multi-lingual teams and managed operations for hundreds of journalists. Hudson is a Managing Partner at Angle42, a strategic communications consultancy.
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Google wants to help you get a life

Digital car windows, curved AR glasses, automatic presentations and other patents from Big Tech.

A new patent from Google offers a few suggestions.

Image: USPTO

Another week has come to pass, meaning it's time again for Big Tech patents! You've hopefully been busy reading all the new Manual Series stories that have come out this week and are now looking forward to hearing what comes after what comes next. Google wants to get rid of your double-chin selfie videos and find things for you as you sit bored at home; Apple wants to bring translucent displays to car windows; and Microsoft is exploring how much you can stress out a virtual assistant.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

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Viewers like you: How PBS is adapting to the streaming age

The public broadcaster has had considerable success on YouTube and other digital platforms. Now, it is looking to revamp pledging.

PBS has begun to talk to ad-supported video services, including some that distribute programming via free 24/7 channels, to help it compete in the streaming age.

Image: PBS

If there were a playbook for the streaming wars, it might read something like this: Take your most valuable assets, slap a plus behind your most recognizable brand name, and start counting the money.

For PBS, things aren't quite that easy. While the public broadcaster has made some inroads in streaming, it has been slower to embrace digital business models than some of its commercial competitors. But that could change in the coming months. PBS is in discussions to bring its app to additional platforms, including a new crop of ad-supported video services, and has plans to turn smart TVs into donation machines that could ultimately make the old-fashioned pledge drive obsolete.

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

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