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Almost half of US studios’ first-run shows are now VoD originals : Study

The five largest US content commissioners have all increased the proportion of their original slates premiering online. In the US, Discovery, Disney, WarnerMedia and Comcast have all coalesced at between 40% to 50% of Original First-run TV Titles commissioned in 2021 going to SVoD. This change has been driven largely by an overall increase in the number of shows commissioned by the groups.

The companies have taken different routes to this point: Disney and WarnerMedia led the way with a strategic shift several years ago, while Comcast and Discovery were later to the game, catching up in 2021. Discovery in particular has rapidly switched strategy. The factual giant has moved from having a minimal focus on VoD originals in 2019 to placing the greatest emphasis on streaming originals. In 2021, nearly half (48%) of its first-run commissions were for VoD platforms, primarily Discovery+. Having entered the SVoD market early with CBS ALL Access, Paramount now lags behind its studio rivals with only one third of commissions going to VoD. Time and resource over the last two years has largely been spent readjusting content priorities amongst its cable assets post the 2019 Viacom-CBS merger.

Fred Black, Research Manager at Ampere Analysis says: “Original content is crucial to the success of any SVoD service. And alongside increasing the volume of streaming originals, the studios are using a strategy centred on adapting existing IP, spin-offs and reboots in their efforts to migrate loyal cable and movie audiences into the new ecosystem. Franchise character spin-offs have proven enormously successful for Disney+, with titles such as The Mandalorian and Marvel series like Loki and Wandavision boosting the service’s early audience growth.

The other studios have taken note; spin-offs from Food Network cooking competition Chopped and TLC stalwart 90 Day Fiancé are increasingly housed on Discovery+, and while Paramount Network’s blockbuster hit Yellowstone is currently streaming on Peacock due to a preceding deal, the after-show reaction series and dramatic spin-offs will be found on Paramount+.

Reboots are another way to capture audiences from elsewhere, and head up HBO Max’s slate with series like And Just Like That… and Pretty Little Liars. Don’t forget the power of Kids content in the streaming game too; Peacock is betting heavily on Dreamworks Animation’s library of IP for new animated series.

All of this poses a problem for incumbents like Netflix and Amazon, which find themselves needing to build out franchises at an accelerated rate to compete, through a combination buying up existing IP like Lord of the Rings, the Roald Dahl books, or The Witcher, as well as leveraging existing hits like Amazon’s The Boys or Netflix’s Selling Sunset to the maximum extent through multiple spin-off series in order to keep pace.” Ampere Analysis

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