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Netflix’s Lead in Originals Beginning to Slip


Jack Thomas Manager

While Netflix continues to dwarf its competitors in the US when it comes to sheer volume of Originals, Show Tracker reveals an acceleration of activity from newcomer SVODs that have started to shrink Netflix’s lead.

While Netflix had more debut Originals in 2020 than any other US SVOD combined the service cannot boast this extreme figure for the 2020/21 season, instead debuting 44 new TV shows compared to 49 from other US SVOD services. The difference between Netflix and its contemporaries is still enormous, helped tremendously by Netflix’s frequent engagement with third party production companies, as opposed to many other streaming video services that instead produce most of their Digital Originals under their own production arms.

Disney has produced the majority of its TV shows for Disney+ and Hulu with in-house production companies, giving them a total of 18 new scripted debuts this season, or 40% of Netflix’s total. Disney is pushing most of its Hulu Originals onto Disney+ in any markets it can with Star, meaning for international audiences Disney+ is debuting double the number of new TV shows than Amazon Prime, bringing them closer to Netflix’s Original levels than ever.

Notable Disney shows that had limited production involvement from its own studio include ‘The Hardy Boys’, a Canadian produced and distributed (Corus) show for Hulu and ‘Monsterland’, distributed by Sony Pictures. Meanwhile WarnerMedia had production involvement and is the distributor for the Disney+ Original ‘The Wright Stuff’, which premiered under the National Geographic brand.

Apple TV+ has historically engaged with the most third party producers and distributors for its original TV shows, with some of its most high profile titles distributed by third party studios including launch show ‘For All Mankind’ from Sony and Ted Lasso, which has been nominated for 13 major Emmy awards, from WarnerMedia.

A wide range of distributors hold the rights for Apple TV+ Originals, such as Lionsgate, with their own production company 3 Arts Entertainment, one of the most prolific companies in Show Tracker, producing the comedy ‘Mythic Quest’. More recently the SVOD has acquired the global rights for two Hebrew language TV series originally commissioned by Israeli broadcasters from Cineflix, ‘Tehran’ and ‘Losing Alice’.

While Netflix and Amazon also acquire some foreign language shows they are both very active in producing foreign language Digital Originals, with both producing more new foreign language shows than English shows for the past three seasons.

Many countries and authorities impose quotas on services to carry locally produced content such as the EU which is set to shake up the types of shows included in their own quotas. Netflix has managed to establish production relationships in most of the markets it operates in, giving it an advantage in fulfilling these quotas over other SVOD services that have yet to expand completely abroad.

Engaging with productions outside the US can provide additional premium English language TV shows for SVOD services, both those starting out looking to bolster their launch lineups and those that have been long established. The majority of UK shows acquired in the US are done so by SVOD services.

HBO Max, in combination with increased engagement with third party distributors for its own commissions, has supplemented its pipeline of Warner produced Max Originals with UK acquisitions, taking TV shows like ‘Two Weeks to Live’ from Banijay, which has been acquired by rival Paramount+ in international markets outside of the US.

Most UK TV shows appearing on US SVOD, whether as a co-commission or simply an acquisition, are branded as Originals on their respective services. Peacock is uniquely placed due to its relationship through NBCUniversal and Comcast with Sky in the UK, providing the SVOD a steady flow of UK produced TV shows to supplement its Original output for both its AVOD and SVOD tier.

The SVOD newcomers are not quite as fledgling as they were when they started in terms of new TV show debuts. Netflix continues to try and get out ahead of the day its traditional studio supply lines are shut off for good by producing more Originals than anyone else, but its competitors are starting to accelerate their own production efforts. Studio owned SVODs have the luxury of giant catalogues of self-owned library titles to add additional value to everything new that they are bringing to consumers. In conjunction with this they can further bolster their lineups through engaging with suppliers abroad for both English language and foreign language television, either through acquisitions or co-productions with local broadcasters grateful to get an opportunity to have high budget premium dramas debut as Originals on their own services.

Show Tracker is an essential tool for the TV industry, which monitors where TV shows are being sold around the world and the rights attached to each deal. Tracking over 1,000 TV shows and 330 different services in over 17 markets, it provides a unified view of the distribution market. Show Tracker gives you data you can trust to drive your strategy forward and give you the edge in negotiations.

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