NPD: Netflix holds commanding lead in legal movie streams

In a validation of its strategy to make its content available on as many platforms as possible, research firm NPD Group has found that 61 percent of all legal movie downloads and streams originate from Netflix. That is over seven times its nearest competitor Comcast, with only eight percent of the market.

"VOD and other digital options are now beginning to make inroads with consumers," NPD entertainment analyst Russ Crupnick said. "Overwhelmingly digital movie buyers do not believe physical discs are out of fashion, but their digital transactions were motivated by the immediate access and ease of acquisition provided by streaming and downloading digital video files."

NPD's findings validate comments by Netflix executives that streaming has become a major part of their business, overtaking its traditional DVD-by-mail business. The company reported in its January earnings call that streaming revenue was growing at a much faster rate than DVD.

DirecTV, TimeWarner, and Apple stood in third with four percent each. The fact that Apple ended up appearing so far down in the survey may surprise some -- often the Cupertino company is viewed as having a stranglehold on the digital entertainment industry.

While consumers see iTunes as having the most current releases, they see Netflix as a better experience overall at a more competitive price, NPD said in the report.

Amazon's new Prime offering was too new to be included in the survey -- which took into account responses from consumers in January and February 2011. That service, which debuted in late February, includes access to about 5,000 movies and TV shows with the standard Prime features such as expedited shipping.

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