March 26, 2019

The Biggest Threat to Netflix

“Netflix is famously secretive about its viewership data (except when it purports not to be), and the absence from this chart of the network’s hit series Stranger Things, which routinely pops up in data sets like this as one of its most watched shows, does give me some pause about the accuracy of Jumpshot’s numbers.

But overall, this data tracks with information from many other surveys and offhand comments — namely, that most viewership on Netflix gravitates toward audience favorites that first aired on other networks, which Netflix itself doesn’t own. These surveys have also frequently concluded that the two most popular shows on Netflix are The Office and Friends, in some order.

But Netflix doesn’t ultimately control the streaming rights to those shows beyond the windows it has licensed them from NBCUniversal (which owns The Office and is an investor in Vox Media) and Warner Media (Friends). In the chart above, red bars denote the shows whose streaming rights are controlled by studios that have their own streaming services in the works, and thus might pull them from Netflix at any time.

As you can see, only seven of the 20 shows listed are not controlled by those other studios (though Fox technically owns Arrested Development — it’s just that its most recent seasons are Netflix productions), and Netflix’s six most popular shows are not among that number.”

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