Some interesting facts worth knowing from a report from IHS Screen Digest, which provides insight into the trends and models associated with digital content creation, market consumption and distribution.

– First, IHS says that Americans spent twice as much on buying and renting movies online last year (2011), than they did in the previous year; $992 million last year to be exact.

– Second, Netflix past Apple in 2011 to become the nation's top provider of movies streamed over the Internet. In 2010, Netflix claimed just 1 percent of the total online movie business; 1 year later, that figure leapt to 44 percent! Whoa!

– IHS says Netflix is so dominant in the subscription (key word there, as opposed to per transaction) VOD market, that it's nearest competitor, Hulu, is 10% of Netflix's size.

– Subscription VOD (Netflix primarily) rose a whopping 10,000% year-over-year to $454 million; while transactional VOD (Apple iTunes notably) rose 75 percent to $273 million.

– Lastly, IHS expects the online movie business on whole to double again this year, as it did last year.

So what does this all mean? Stating the obvious – which I know has been discussed many times on S&A – the online movie business is really the future of the business. Or at least, digital delivery through data pipes (whether to your home, portable device, or theater) instead of traditional print projection, or even tapes or discs.

I'm really curious about the initiative that was announced a year ago I believe, that would make movies available to watch at home (at a higher premium) at the same time they open in theaters. Companies like Magnolia Pictures are already releasing their movies first on VOD, and then later opening them in theaters. This new idea, which theater owners of course are fighting against, will allow audiences to rent new films right at home for a higher price (something like $50) on the same day/date those films open in theaters. So you can either stay home, pay the $50, and watch Spiderman 10 on your large screen TV, on the weekend it opens, or pay $12 per ticket to see on a gigantic screen at the theater. 

I know this progression towards an online, at home movie experience isn't universally popular. But I, for one, embrace it. It's just another option as I see it. And competition is a good thing, isn't it?