Archive for the 'Netflix' Category

Netflix ships 2.2 million DVDs a day. And circulates 95% of its inventory every three months. Netflix is the best DVD ILL system in the world. What do you think of THAT modern libraries?
*found on notes accompanying behind the scenes shipping room pictures that Netflix just posted to facebook today*
Comments from my facebook page are below. Fascinating that facebook now gets more interaction than this ole’ blog. Not surprising, but it does make the point of my last post a bit more intensely. At any rate…read the debate!
fb Netflix conversation June09.

Hooray! Libraries, library staff and most importantly, library patrons are accessing content with tools like youtube. And Joost. And others. This is important. And libraries are in that loop. Woo hoo!

But…what about the oceans of content that just isn’t “free” and/or centrally located and is distributed more and more via electronic means? What about the content in the long tail that only for-profits are doing a successful job of distributing (aka selling in most instances). In libraries there is inter-library loan of course. And there is eBay and Amazon and a host of others that have cut into library business to some extent (not necessarily a bad thing at all, right?). But there is Netflix. Netflix (just for fun, why not check that link out and think about it in terms of what libraries do. Some startling concepts may stand out.), just keeps popping up on my radar over and over again. Brightly. Here’s the latest instance:

US DVD rental firm Netflix is to release a set-top box which will let subscribers download movies and other programmes over the net.

So what does this indicate for the future of content access in libraries?

Granted, there have been a small slew of set top boxes designed to specialize in content delivery in the last couple of years. But with Netflix participation, for me at least, the implications for libraries and content delivery futures grow in significance and immediacy. As these services exist now, and as they are shaping up, libraries are cut out of almost all of this business. Influencing or being included in this sort of content delivery model would take significant investment from larger (or combinations of larger) library related business or organizations (including non-profits and even government agencies potentially).

True, “Netflix has spent about $40m on the development of its streaming service during the past year.” and that of course surely does not include licensing and revenue related math for the studios, etc. True also that money talks, eh? Still, given the mission of the library (particularly Public Libraries) it seems worth noting that:
As an industry, within the larger library-centric institutions that could make important impacts:
-We are not researching this kind of content delivery in any truly significant way.
-We are not planning to, in the future, provide specific deliverables based around his kind of content delivery.
-We do not have organized, direct or significant relationships with the companies that own the largest collections of popular content and manage it’s distribution to approach them as a potential distribution channel.
-We do not have the legal and negotiation teams that would be required to get our patrons access to the content controlled by companies mentioned above.

While the above list is a bit intimidating, is it insurmountable? I keep thinking about the last interview I read with Reed Hasting, CEO of Netflix. It concluded with the question “What is the future of Netflix?”. His answer, was “there is a reason we are named Netflix and not DVDflix”. Obviously and wisely they are eyeing content delivery. And so are libraries? Certainly there are hundreds of other companies doing so, many of which have an eye on (inadvertently I’m sure) further reducing our market share and value. This is all fine and well. But it makes one again wonder: are libraries at large doing the work necessary to be positioned in the content delivery market? What about libraries??? Will we care more when our DVD circulation drops? Or when Netflix becomes NetLibrary (serious point and little inside joke there too)? Interestingly, someone once said to me that “the most valuable asset NetLibrary really has is the name NetLibrary”! Wow. In light of what Reed Hastings said in the interview I keep recalling, it gives pause.

Netflix hasn’t changed their name. Yet. But their mission, and the missions of other content delivery centric companies seems clear. And it is threatening to libraries. And I am concerned that this threat is not being surfaced and dealt with sufficiently across our industry. If we were all watching the Netflix business model evolution closely we might talk about (and work on) this more. Perhaps when Netflix changes their name to NetContent or NetAV..or NetLibrary, more aggressive action will be taken in our industry?

I REALLY wonder what you think though.

And now for something completely different! Me being a dork with my new XO laptop. Woo hoo!
Me and MY XO

Netflix Lovefest Results From Datamining Interface

This post was intended to be purely about numbers, stats and ranking of DVDs in Netflix and in Libraries using WorldCat. But the interactive, social, instant, business encouraging model at Netflix was so amazingly effective that intent was nearly trumped. Here’s a number that explains it all: 2.0. That isn’t enough though so here are some other juicy numbers for you via a screenshot of the offical Netflix Top 100 Movie Rentals. This is the version you see when you are logged in to an account (mine, in this case;), so if you don’t have a Netflix account this might be especially good to see:

Netflix Top 100 - July 2006

Track top 100 movement every two weeks? See what is already in your queue from the top 100 and add other titles with a click of the mouse? See which of the movies your other Netflix friends have recommended? Add your own ratings to any title in the top 100 instantly? With one click? Your friends then see your ratings and the ratings are also added to the collective rating of the movie? See what movies are popular in you geographic area? All on or launched from one page?! A page that makes sense when you look at it? ILS vendors! Hello! Open WorldCat folks? Anybody in LibraryLand? Please?

Dig a Bit (intended pun) of the Library Data
The following image reveals the Top 50 most widely held DVD titles in WorldCat and the number of libraries that ?hold? each title. Interestingly, couched in a Netflix and Libraries discussion, I have to say that the process involved in mining this data was not especially quick or easy. I don?t even know if most library folks would even be able to pull this info out of WorldCat. I certainly had help. It isn?t secret information by any means. In fact, WorldCat and OCLC both works to expose the quantity and quantity of information in library catalogs worldwide. Again, couched in a Netflix and Libraries discussion it is interesting and important information:

Top 50 WorldCat DVD Holdings

Anyone who might have the impression that Netflix has more DVD content variety or quantity than libraries gets a sneak preview here that might make them say ?hmmm..?. I?ll work on more stats, though again, the WorldCat data can be surprisingly difficult to mine at this point.

Many folks reading this already know about the Open WorldCat Program , but I’d be remiss not to mention is somewhere in this discussion. Such sweet, juicy potential!

Dream Time
*I know Netflix will surely have more copies of current popular titles, but they sell these in their store once popularity starts to wane. Sound like a library bookstore to anybody? Dream job? Working on a library partnership with Netflix for popular DVDs while also setting up a nationwide “Friends of the Library” interface to sell weeded library materials in partnership with Amazon. Yeah, buddy!*


Netflix Niagara and Libraries

**Picture Removed at request of Niagra University**
Request stated “The screen capture is a violation of copyright law.”

Niagara University uses Netflix to expand circualtion and patron access. Nice work!

**Update – “Niagara University Library will no longer be offering the service”. Yipes! Wonder what gives? **

A message to Netflix: Would you be interested in starting a program with libraries so that they can do this AND allow their patrons to browse the Netflix catalog?
**maybe not? Hmmm**

Thanks for the link Greg and nice work on this project, Samantha!