Measuring the iTunes video store

It’s been five years since we had an update on TV show downloads and six years since we’ve had an update on movie downloads from Apple. In Q3 2008 Apple announced 200 million TV show downloads and in Q2 2007 2 million movies. That’s a long period with no information making a tough extrapolation to the present.

Nevertheless, I tried. My estimates for these two quantities were 963 million TV Shows and 108.2 million movies to date.

So I was quite surprised to see that figures for both TV show downloads and Movie downloads were published today. The figures were 1 billion and 380 million respectively.

My TV show forecast has proven to be very accurate but I severely underestimated movie download rates. Apple states that the movie download rate is 350k/day. My estimate  was only about 126k/day.

After adjusting for the new data, the picture of downloads that emerges looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 6-19-6.20.31 PM

The overall iTunes gross revenues by sub-component becomes:

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 6-19-6.22.04 PM

As a result, my new estimate for the rate of spending on iTunes video is about $1.75 billion/yr. This is much more substantial than prior estimates mainly because movies are much more valuable. A tripling of the download rate shows up as a significant rise in the profile of video vis-à-vis the other media types.

Apps and software are firmly defined and music was somewhat clear. The upward adjustment in Video means that I have to reduce either Music or services. I presently am reducing service revenues but might adjust music as well.

The overall picture of iTunes is becoming clearer every day. We have more information about number of users (575 million), what they spend on media and software and services ($20 billion/yr.) and, increasingly what they spend on each media type (about $9/yr on Software, $2/yr on books, $16/yr on apps $12/yr on music and $4/yr on video.)

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 6-19-6.34.18 PM

  • Jeff G

    Sometimes I laugh when people say they haven’t come up with anything new. Exxon Mobil hasn’t come up with anything new either. They just keep doing more of the same.

    Even if Apple never came up with a new disruption and/devices, although it seems likely to me that they will, selling tens or hundreds of millions of future iPods, iPhones, iPads and all variety of Macs, accessories, apps, music, books, advertising, and movies… Is akin to having unlimited oil supplies to sell a to a growing world market.

    • blenheimorange

      If only apple was as innovative lobbying as the oil industry.

    • Jeff G

      I would also add (and I’m sure Horace and others have said this in many different ways) that…

      Apple takes a lot of risks. They are not unwarranted, but there history is one of laying it all on the line when they are confident the risk/reward ratio is “good enough”.

      They do a lot of things analysts and investors don’t understand, yet hindsight has proven them to be correct en masse disruption, adoption, sales and profits.

      Yet all the while arm chair quarterbacks nitpick the details. It strikes me as it would if someone criticized the Super Bowl champs for not running up enough offensive yardage. For Lord’s sake, how much more do you want?

      Sure, the game isn’t over, but why then do so many speak as if it is? At the absolute worst, it’s half time – an the game is tied (Or judging by profits, revenues, ecosystem, and loyal customer base… Apple has a sizable lead.

      General Patton once said, “When in doubt, observe and ask questions. When certain, observe at length and ask many more questions.”

  • Defunkd Reader

    Music has really sagged off. Much of it probably can’t be untangled from the selection effect that early iTunes was more music-centric and recent sign-ups are (probably) not music-oriented consumers (otherwise they would have signed up in 2007-ish). Still, are consumers changing the way they consume music? Is $.99/song less relevant given Apple’s own shift towards the ad-supported and subscription model?

    • Walt French

      “Music has really sagged off.”

      Ummm, no. Eyeballing the 2007 number of accounts at 30 million*, Apple has 19 times the number of iTunes accounts, while music revenue per user has only fallen by two-thirds.

      Total music revenues to Apple have gone from $1.2 billion to $6.8 billion, a splendid annual growth rate of about 40%, quite inconsistent with your statement that it has “sagged off.”

      Yes, an iTunes account in 2Q’07 existed primarily to support an iPod, i.e., significantly for music. Today’s iTunes accounts includes a lot of people who came for other things, especially apps, and also includes some dormant / inactive accounts. It’s unsurprising that customers who open an iTunes account to buy apps, don’t buy as much music as a customer who opened an account primarily for music, but that selection effect is very different than the aggregate effect.

      I recall some research showing consumer spending on music has peaked/flattened, but I don’t think there’s any evidence that Apple’s share of music has in any way hit an airpocket.

      * All calcs are sensitive to this eyeball number and other numbers taken from the chart.

      • nuttmedia

        Perhaps s/he was referring to the per-user figures. I think the point is that iTunes spending is spread against a larger library of options, with the strongest momentum behind apps. Coupled with viable alternatives (Spotify, Pandora, rdio etc), it is not all surprising that unitized spending on music is down.

      • Walt French

        “…unitized spending on music is down.”

        All we know is that spending per average iTunes account is down, while the total is way up. Restating what Defunkd noted, the denominator has grown faster than the numerator, so the ratio has fallen. But the numerator is enjoying very high growth, and the non-iTunes account-holding individuals nonetheless existed. They just didn’t get counted.

        If you use the addressable market as the denominator, they were mostly there all along (Apple HAS added more countries in this period), and Apple revenue per prospective user has grown quite nicely.

        Back to Horace’s topic of video, I’ll assert here that movie and TV viewers are much less inherently sticky than a music buyer, because most movies are only worth watching once (and most TV shows aren’t even worth watching once

      • nuttmedia

        Yes, fair point, and a jump in conclusion on my part without any supporting data other than my own experience and that of friends and family – cardinal data sin, I know.

        On stickiness – I get your point (and agree 1000% on most TV being unwatchable), and recognize consumption of music is wholly different than that for video, but I would say that as one’s video cloud library begins to grow, the switching costs to other hardware does become relevant – particularly since DRM is in place. As the media itself is digital, little or no differentiation in the quality of the actual product, it would take considerable differentiation in services, related hardware, UX etc., to get one to shake inertia and forgo the Apple ecosystem and its packaged convenience.

      • tmay

        Music discovery is enhanced by iRadio, so we should see if in fact discovery was the missing ingredient to iTunes growth.

        I don’t buy music much now, having been a teen during the British Invasion I’m a bit spoiled, but I suspect that iRadio might be a motivator to listening to and purchasing new music.

      • Walt French

        Sounds like we need a Geezers’ Forum on Asymco for our ilk.

        Let me wonder about the “discovery” aspect from that perspective. Living in the SF Bay Area, I can indulge my tastes with live jazz performances at a couple of world-famous clubs, and also enjoy a couple of opera companies and a fine symphony. Only a small fraction of my demographic has direct access to discover those specialized tastes. But anybody can get on KCSM.Org (and a couple of other fine ones); Sirius has something like 24 million (all US?) subscribers who can choose from their MetOpera, Symphony and a couple of jazz channels; jazz is part of a music package on many cable TV nets; etc.

        So there’s all the discovery that even a person with niche tastes could want. For the much more mainstream demographic, why the bulk of the music industry is devoted to engaging them and keeping them supplied with both familiar and new songs. You can’t really avoid pop music and if you really like a song, how hard is it to remember the artist and song name? Worst case, you fire up Shazam and you have the track a couple of clicks later.

        I don’t know others’ reactions, but Pandora ended up too claustrophobic—not a cogent narrative that playing a whole CD can represent; not a well-curated selection of similar styles with new groups; not the pulse of a genre that I get from the best human programming. I somehow doubt that Apple, which knows a lot about distributing but essentially nothing about programming listening, will trump these other not-good-enough alternatives. iRadio will deepen the notion that you go to Apple for music, so will contribute to Apple’s financial success in the space, but it’s hard to see it as transformative—in fact, more the opposite.

      • MarkS2002

        For me, iTunes was like the introduction of cassettes and, later, CDs. A new format demands a number of favourite albums be purchased, again. Once those have been duplicated, my purchases began to fall off[. I, too, am an opera fan. I have, at various times, owned Wagner’s Ring cycle on vinyl, cassettes, CD, video cassettes, and, now, mp3. I am hoping I don’t have to buy it again in my lifetime. With so many of my favourite categories now replaced, I hardly shop there, anymore.

  • Andre Cheung

    It proves that people adopting multi-screen-movie-on-demand in much faster pace! Compare to the movie-on-demand services from NowTV in HK, iTunes is more easy to use and supports big screen (via Airplay) and mobile devices. Anytime, anywhere. It is in sync with a recent survey from Devoncroft which shows multi-platform content delivery (MPCD) is considered by broadcast industry as the most important trend:

  • Walt French

    Eddy Cue’s assertion that Apple has about 20% of the e-book market was a similar surprise to many observers when it was reported last week—it was twice the share that many believed.

    It’d likewise be interesting to know the share Apple enjoys in various video entertainment. Since Apple continues to gain users while selling iPads with normal margins, they could be undercutting the Amazon strategy of trying to lock media consumers through hardware distributed at cost.

    iTunes might be a smallish share of Apple’s revenues, but ecosystem is a big part of its hardware value proposition. If 200 million of the 575 million iTunes accounts are in the US (there are about 114 million US households), “first for iTunes” might be the next disruption for movie/video producers—their equivalent of developers’ “first for iOS.”

    • nuttmedia

      Your “first for iTunes” concept fits in nicely with the recent statements by Spielberg/Lucas on the future of the movie industry. For better or for worse, it truly is where the puck is going.

      • vincent_rice

        Totally agree

  • nuttmedia

    I seem to recall that in the past, Apple has described the iTunes Store (then chiefly Music and Apps) as a break-even business with the 30% GM on apps and what little spread in music going to data center, bandwidth etc costs. I would imagine this considerable growth has created some economies of scale such that it would be a bit better than break even, particularly since the low/no margin music is a smaller component.

    What started out as an effective means to raise switching costs has really developed into potential wood for another leg to the stool.

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  • mknopp

    The last few new releases that I have bought have been from iTunes. An iTunes HD movie cost the same or less than a DVD version of the same movie at the big box stores.

    Where iTunes falls flat is in older movies. I can readily walk into a big box store and find DVDs of older movies for $5-7. These same movies usually range from $9.99 to as much as $12.99 (often over twice as much). There is no real sense of urgency with older movies like this and given the prevalence of streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus. I think that the studios are blowing a good opportunity to make some more money by pricing older movies more reasonably and inline with their physical counterparts. After all they don’t have the expense of physical media.

    My take on why iTunes movies have blossomed so much, and why they haven’t grown even more.

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  • obarthelemy

    My main issue with digital content at this time is that it that it is not sold, but licensed/rented/leased:
    1- 1st sale doctrine doesn’t apply, the content cannot be resold. Reciprocally, it cannot be bought second-hand, which makes anything but the latest content comparatively very expensive vs bargain-bins and ebay.
    2- DRMed content is usable only as long as the DRM servers are up, which may seem a non-issue right now, but probably is in the long run. Watching my dad’s Super8 kid movies w/ homemade live voice-overs is good retro fun for rainy days, still.
    3- DRMed Apple content is only available on Apple+Windows desktops and Apple mobile devices. What happens when you want to switch, or another member of the family wants to ? Being locked into single-source, luxury mobile devices is a major risk.

    I think legislation about DRM interoperability and resale would actually help this sector pick up steam.

    • Kizedek

      Interoperability is one thing, but differentiation is another.

      Even if Apple media was playable on other devices, it doesn’t mean that all the unique features would be or should be dumbed down.

      For example, PDF is an open format, but not all PDF creators and readers are equal — you can’t always get at the editing or annotating or locking features. Should Adobe be forced to make all features equally available across the field?

      For example, though .doc, etc. are open standards, but MS Office is supposed to be THE product with its macros and stuff. People denigrate Open Office and Pages. Should MS be forced to make all features equally available across the field?

      There are trade-offs and considerations that go beyond merely playing one format on a competitor’s device, and they need to brought into the mix.

      From iBooks Author you can export to PDF, ePub, etc. BUT you get rich graphic effects and interactive features that the others can’t support (particularly effective for textbooks on iPad which remains the best value for money for students). From Keynote, you can export to PDF and PP, but you get rich graphic effects and interactive features that the others can’t support.

      Again, Apple devices play most other formats (both open and licensed), much more so that any other device. Apple devices offer the Kindle app, and competing store apps, etc. No-one else does that.

      Thanks for your concern that Apple users are getting “locked-in”, but we can choose what media to buy and from whom.

      Thanks also for your concern that the platform may one day disappear and we would be stuck, without certain legislation. I can see why one would be concerned given that others have dropped their platforms and left their users in the lurch (MS Plays for Sure, MS Phone7, Google RSS, Nokia Symbian, etc.)… Thankfully, the announcements from Apple this week are a little more reassuring.

      Resale, of course is about physical objects, like a plastic CD disk. However, there were still license agreements: IF you could resell it, then you were supposed to agree NOT to retain a copy. That is because you DO NOT *own* the material on the disk — you NEVER DID. You never *owned* a song or piece of art or software or other IP. Apple is not suddenly doing something different or unusual or onerous. This is standard! When you “buy” a song, you buy the “right to play it” in limited contexts (separately licensing is required for public venues for example). This has ALWAYS been the case, whether we are talking about delivery through physical media or digital media. Welcome back to planet earth. Apple media actually is one of the LESS onerous alternatives out there because you get to play it on five devices and burn playlists to CD.

      • obarthelemy

        Indeed, file format is different from player/editor features. This is very obvious. .doc is not an *open* standard, even .docx that pretends to be is badly documented, offers no open/reference nor 3rd-party implementation, thus is not, either, in practice.
        All editors are playing the proprietary game, I’m not sure Keynote implements that many unique features, it just does its own in proprietary ways; nor that iStuff is better at importing/exporting non-native formats than the sector’s stalwarts (Google Docs, Docs to Go, soon LibreOffice…)
        You’re missing the point that a CD could be resold (of course you’re supposed to not keep a copy…), a digital download can’t. I’m not arguing we should be allowed to copy content, just to resell it, and to buy it second-hand. That’s possible with physical media, it isn’t with digital.

      • Kizedek

        And you hit the obvious on the head:

        “I’m not arguing we should be allowed to copy content, just to resell it, and to buy it second-hand. That’s possible with physical media, it isn’t with digital.””

        You’re missing the point: you don’t own the content, whether on physical disk or digital copy. You never did. Really, how can 200 million different people “own” the same performance of a song? The reason you can’t resell the content is the same as the reason you can’t copy it : you don’t own it. Hello.

        [Actually, Keynote does have unique features, particularly graphical ones (like transparent alpha layers) and key-framing on animations, etc.]

      • obarthelemy

        You’re right, nobody ever resells CD/DVD/BR.

        Oh, wait…

      • Kizedek

        Oh wait, when you sell *the piece of plastic*, you can’t copy *the content* and leave it on your computer… because the *right* to play *that copy of the content* resides *with that disk*.

        As you agreed, you can’t copy the content. You can’t copy it because you don’t *own* it, just the piece of plastic. Therefore, by the same token, you can not *resell* it.

        What are you missing here? I know we are dealing with the abstract when we talk about IP and ideas and people’s creativity, but, really, it isn’t that difficult.

      • obarthelemy

        Apparently, the fact that you can resell physical media but can’t resell digital downloads *is* difficult to grasp for some ?

      • resale

        I don’t see how no DRM and allowed resale can practically coexist.

      • Kizedek

        Yes, not only is it not practical, it’s not something the labels and studios would likely allow…

        The difference between *buying* and *renting* is basically the terms of payment. There are still licensing conditions to be met.

        With renting, you keep paying on a regular basis: you stop paying, you stop listening. With “buying” you get perpetual license to listen, *according to the terms* : your device(s), your account, or one of the five devices associated with the account, etc.

        So, if you “buy” a digital movie for less than physical media (9.99, as opposed to 17.99, say, you are restricting yourself to the terms associated with that media.

        Some software allows you to “decommission the computer registering a serial number, so that a different computer can be commissioned.” But, unlike a productive tool, the label or studio is not going to want you to watch a movie six times till you are fed up with the movie, then “transfer” the license to another person for 5 bucks so that he can watch it another six times, ad infinitum. No, they want you to pay 18 bucks, or for everyone to rent the movie for 4 bucks per view. That’s not an Apple restriction.

      • Kizedek

        Obviously, that there is a difference is pertinent, Sherlock. I am giving you the reason for the difference.

    • Walt French

      1. Let’s say “may not” instead of “cannot.” DRM came into existence because of fears that people would do — indeed, were doing — what you say cannot be done. As to the overall effect, every CD that gets into circulation is sold at least once, so selling one’s old CDs only brings the cost down to the digital price, and even that advantage is offset by the time/hassle of selling. I’m pretty sure that the total cost of music has gone down with digital formats. The same for movies, I would hazard.

      2. Not all DRM relates to internet-connected rights management. DVDs, as an obvious example, can be copied and the DRM bypassed quite easily with widely-available software. Yes, if you teach History of Film, you will want copies that you can be sure will work 10 years from now. The rest of us, who maybe watch a movie a couple of times, tops, won’t care whether we can watch 40 Year Old Virgin in 2025, even though it was a “Top 50” comedy.

      3. DRM’d Apple content enjoys similar restrictions as DRM’d content on other platforms. It’s pretty obvious that if I want to play back a movie on my S4, I’ll need to choose a format that works for it. But would I then be able to play it back on my Kindle Fire? … a Nook? …a Moto Droid3 stuck on Gingerbread? …a Nokia 928? I’m not sure what your point is, since Google seems even more intent than ever at creating a fragmented audience for Google Play sales. There’ve been lots of fatalities in this industry that leave “owners” orphaned and while I don’t like a sole-source monopoly any more than you do, it’s better than having locked onto PlaysForSure, the Zune formats or any number of others. (It’s why I buy most all my music on CD, and keep the original disk in the basement right next to my backup server.)

      X. I support your call for DRM interoperability, which you may know is a proposal before the W3C—a proposal that many of the most vocal Android proponents strongly oppose, BTW. But I’m optimistic that DRM’d video will go the same way that DRM’d music went — into the dustbin, with the leadership of Apple. As Horace has been highlighting, movies are on the cusp of a tremendous transformation and new ways of monetizing & distributing it could make DRM an impediment to new approaches. (I hope!)

      • obarthelemy

        1a- The cost of new content has gone down. The cost of second-hand content is non applicable since “digital” doesn’t allow second-hand. In my case, the overall cost of content has gone up with digital, since second-hand physical has dried up.
        1b- I’m not sure if and by how much “digital” has actually helped lower prices. Sales are fewer, second-hand non-existent, and the content market has been growing which usually leads to lower prices anyway.
        2- Sure. Also, you never have any use for decades old Bambi nor any kid fare, and never enjoy classics nor personal favorites. Same with music, I’m sure ?
        3- Yep, DRM is pretty much the same anywhere. On the Android side, you do have at least a choice of hardware suppliers: my $100-$200 2nd/3rd-tier gizmos have access to the content I bought on my $500-$700 1st-tier gizmos, and reciprocally. All have equal access to the Playstore and other content stores.

        I’m not sure the answer to the DRM issue is a technical one. Marketing maybe, legislative probably.

  • I think your estimates for software and services are off. If you look back at old classifications vs new restated you can back out services from iPad and iPhone. And if you look at old software and services figures vs deferred revenue (services) you can get a good idea that Mac services was a huge chunk of that segment. It’s almost like your estimates for software and services should be flipped.

  • mieswall

    Horace, do you think ARPU of iTunes can converge to a number, say the 30-35, in some future, or as iTunes accounts keep growing, ARPU will keep compressing?

    As Apple keeps adding services (like iRadio now), it is possible that Apple may level or even increase ARPU in the future.

    Few years ago, people used to buy several records per year, at say, $18 per CD. Went to the cinema at least a couple of times per month, at an expense much higher than the current 4/yr of iTunes video; even in books the expense was higher. That level of expense was even seen in many lower-income countries (where iTunes will be expanding now). I believe the natural trend is for digital services to almost completely replace those “analog” expenses (btw, Spielberg and Lucas recently commented about this). That’s why probably there is a floor of minimum revenues per iAccount.

    This issue is key, imo, since the services provided by Apple may become a huge contributor o future revenues (given the ongoing phase of massive markets for low cost devices). Until now, even with its big growth, the share of services in total revenues is less than some years ago, given that iphone and ipad revenues have increased at a higher rate. If disruptive technologies are cheetahs, services are freight trains.

    • tmay

      Two disruptions in my mind that are required to get this Blu Ray disk buyer to switch to video downloads;

      1) Wide adoption of H.265 will bring us higher resolution and better color at half the bandwidth, something important for both mobile users and bandwidth limited DSL users.

      2) Cable cutters need access to Premium Cable content; i.e., HBO, Showtime, etc, and Premium Cable hasn’t figured out how to monetize this without sacrificing cable subscriptions.

      Both of those will happen, eventually. Apple will be in as good a position as any other ecology. I’m personally more comfortable purchasing from Apple than alternatives such as Amazon, but original content is something that Apple hasn’t shown any interest in; an advantage for Neflix and Amazon.

      • Walt French

        Two points. First, original content competes with the very production companies you want to collaborate with. Amazon has no difficulty in creating its original imprimatur for books, but it hasn’t won them any fans in the publishing industry, on whom Amazon is dependent for its content.

        And that’s with Amazon fighting against publishers who are very weak economically. The incumbent movie producers have a much stronger grasp on a much bigger business.

        Second, production is hard. Amazon has had some success but Amazon’s business model seems like cross-subsidies without any part of the company making money OR locking in customers. E.g., note to Amazon: those households with kids who are replaying toddler TV shows a zillion times are soon going to be households with grade-schoolers who want music and maybe video in their pocket and will wonder if you lost your mind when you suggest they watch Spongebob another time.

  • mieswall

    Would be nice a color coordination between graph 2 and 3. Also a numeric table of second graph. It seems software increases in a fairly linear correlation with mac sales, isn’t? What about apps vs iPhone/ipad?

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  • neutrino23

    Maybe I just don’t see it, but do you differentiate between movie rentals and purchases or do both count as a download? Does it matter? What about viewing purchased movies and TV shows with Apple TV? Does that count as an additional download (I’m guessing not)?

    • Rentals and purchases are each counted as downloads. The measure of download is the transfer of a license (usually a right to view in exchange for payment.) Multiple downloads of the same license do not count toward “downloads.” Same with apps.

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  • drewski

    The problem with dividing revenue by iTunes accounts is that there are now many, many iTunes accounts that have little to do with interacting with iTunes. Whenever someone opts to use iCloud, they are given the opportunity to create a new Apple ID. Many people opt to do this for the sole purpose of syncing across devices and using iMessage, etc and so their iTunes account can’t really be considered as a candidate for making purchases.

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  • ggruber66

    Horace in listening to “Not bad for a Hobby”, you seemed to primarily link the rise in the TV and movie downloads to AppleTV sales. But I think that vastly understates the numbers of downloads to iPads. Anecdotally, I see a fair number of people watching movies and TV shows on their iPads on planes when I travel.

    It’s also interesting to me that Dish Networks heavily markets the fact that they give customers a free iPad for new subscribers (at least those that use The Hopper), which lends more credence to the ascent of the iPad as a primary factor to the growth in iTunes video downloads.

    Any thoughts on the viewing share between iPads on Apple TV?

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  • celeb

    I love music, iTunes is a great audio player, Thanks for sharing.

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