By The Numbers: The Rise And Fall Of Online Video And Independent Film
**UPDATE** Some of the charts (the line charts, not the regional graphs) below were originally not stored locally (ie: I was referencing them on google) and, unfortunately, google’s charts seem to be evolving for no apparent reason. Thus, looking at these charts is slightly different than the charts used when originally composing this post. I’m going to replace the dynamic links with screenshots but my original data sets seem slightly different. I stand by everything below but it’s the charts are a little uglier.
There has been a lot of talk about the end of independent film. Conferences at Sundance and articles like this and this (often featuring Mr. Gill). But most are just postulating. Here are some interesting charts I put together with Google Trends just to see where things are headed.
**UPDATE** Scott Macaulay makes the very good point about units of comparison: “”Streaming video” and “online video” both refer to delivery mechanisms, whereas independent film is most probably being used to refer to a class of film. Certainly people searching for “online video” could be searching for ways to see independent film online. Or are you assuming that online video is referring exclusively to short form work?”
I recognize the problem Scott raises and that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t delve too deeply into analysis of the data. That being said, I am trying to track here how these ideas are related in popularity as memes and not as alternatives to each other. Scott is correct that two are delivery methods and one is a class of film but it’s not completely without merit to compare the interest in methods of delivery with interest in a class of film – and we see that as interest in certain methods of delivery have increased, interest in a certain class of film has decreased – that does not say that there is a causal relationship, only a loose correlation.
This first chart compares searches for the term “independent film” (in red) and “online film” (in blue). You can see the slow descent of independent and then, in 2007, the rise of online film.
Here is the same chart but this time adding in “streaming video” (in orange). You can see that in late 2008, for the first time, “online film” briefly overtook “streaming video”.
Here is a chart looking at search volume for “cinema” (orange), “film” (blue), and “video” (red). While I’m not surprised by the relative levels, and there is not much change in search volume revealing trends, what is fascinating are the spikes. It appears that ALL THREE values spike each year around December. I don’t have a reason why, other than that is when the better releases tend to be clustered and the year-end ‘best of’ lists, but it is interesting. Also, what was with the massive spike in late 2006 for “video”?
Now, if we dive into those numbers for the US we can see some interesting data. Below are US Maps, showing search volume, 2004-present, for the following terms:
Again, I’m not going to try to divine too much but the data speaks volumes by itself. The distribution of either interest or awareness (probably more the former but they are clearly related) is vastly more distributed for streaming video than for either online film or independent film. Now, to normalize that information for any difference between simply the words “film” and “video” here are those charts:
Interestingly enough, those terms seem to have relatively similar, and even, distribution (allowing that video is more heavily searched than film). So, there are some stats. I still think the feature film is not dead though.