As Hollywood adjusts to the rapidly evolving digital landscape, a new study from measurement firm Parrot Analytics seeks to quantify one of the most closely guarded secrets in the streaming world — namely, which shows are most popular.
The firm’s Global Television Demand Report measures demand for all digital original series across 10 global markets, monitoring the various ways consumers express their interest in a piece of content across streaming platforms, on social media, on blogs and elsewhere. The popularity of these shows plays a key role in the success of these on-demand platforms.
Here are five key insights gleaned for the new report:
Investment in content is soaring. The three major on-demand platforms spent $13 billion last year, up dramatically from the $5.5 billion spent in 2013. Netflix continues to lead the market in spending on content — saying it will invest up to $8 billion this year. Rivals are growing increasingly serious, with Amazon recently spending $250 million for the rights to a Lord of the Rings series, and announcing their plans to find the next Game of Thrones.
The number of digital original series has skyrocketed. From two small-budget Hulu series in 2011 — the news show The Morning After and the documentary series A Day in the Life — the number of new titles debuting exclusively online exceed 100 last. Netflix has released the majority of new digital original shows since 2014, but Amazon has significantly increased output in the past two years. New platforms backed by big tech companies — Apple Music and Facebook Watch — also are getting into the original content game.
Increased investment in original content is fueling subscriber growth. Netflix surpassed 100 million subscribers worldwide in 2017; Amazon is estimated to have reached 90 million subscribers (though it does not release exact numbers). Hulu is only available in the U.S. and Japan and has fewer subscribers — but it grew 40% year over year, thanks to recent hits such as The Handmaid’s Tale.
Hits matter. Netflix had eight of the top 10 most in-demand digital original series in the United States, based on Parrot Analytics’ measurements. Netflix’s Stranger Things was the most popular digital original series in the United States in 2017, followed by 13 Reasons Why. The third most-popular show, Star Trek: Discovery, single-handedly increased demand for CBS All-Access last September. With more than 50 new titles released last year, Netflix commanded 70% of the demand consumers expressed for original digital series, dwarfing rivals Amazon and Hulu.
Online discovery isn’t all that different from the old-fashioned TV world. When it comes to the “offline” world, people tend to learn about new series through word of mouth. Some 45% of people say friends, family and acquaintances tell them about new shows. The same is true for online discovery, where people hear about new shows from friends and on social media.