Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Netflix: Licensed and Not Original Shows Dominate the SVOD Giant’s TV Streams

Netflix is a lot like Discovery Channel in the late 1980’s.

Like Discovery back in the day, Netflix viewers watch a lot more acquisitions than original commissions.

  • Only 15% of its total U.S. streams in 1Q ’17 were for Netflix Originals.
  • More than than 85% were licensed acquisitions.
  • Those findings were reported by research firm 7Park Data.

Scripted Dominates:

  • Scripted shows dominate the “SVOD Streaming Ratings”:
  • For Netflix, the top half-hour program in March ’17 in the U.S. was “The Office” (8.4% of total streams).
  • “South Park” was Hulu’s top half-hour program in March ’17 (6.7% of total streams).

Documentary Viewing

  • Individual documentaries don’t show up on the chart.
  • But the documentary category does bolster subscriber satisfaction and drive favorable press.
  • Documentaries contribute to customer subscription and retention, just as Unscripted channels like Discovery have done for cable / satellite operators for more than a generation.
  • According to Netflix, 73% of its 100 million (+/-) subscribers worldwide watched at least one documentary in 2016.
  • (Unlike advertiser-supported channels, SVOD services don’t share their proprietary detailed viewing data.)

More and More Originals

  • Netflix announced plans to produce 1,000 hours of original programming in 2017. 
  • That’s up from 600 hours in 2016.
  • We don’t have a breakdown of Netflix’s documentary pipeline.
  • Or of the breakdown in the Documentary category of streams for originals versus acquisitions.

The Research Framework

Two Teams

  • Two Netflix teams cover documentary and unscripted commissions.
  • As far as I can tell, for documentaries and factual specials, Netflix relies on the director-led model imported from Scripted rather than the producer-led commissioning model that has proven its value for the factual channels.

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