Hub: Original Streaming Titles Key in Drawing, Retaining Subscribers

The Crown
The Crown (Image credit: Netflix)

BOSTON—Consumers are looking for original content when it comes to their streaming channels, according to a new study released by Hub Entertainment Research. This has given Netflix an early lead in both drawing and retaining subscribers, but Disney+ and HBO Max are making headway.

Hub’s “Evolution of Video Branding (opens in new tab)” notes that streaming platforms are labeling more TV shows and movies as “original.” The report details a number of different ways that original content is influencing consumers.

The simple act of labeling a program “original” boosts its viewing interest. For those 16-34 years old, 70% of respondents said that the term “original” makes them more interested in watching a show or movie (25% “a lot more interested”). “Original” holds less sway for those 35 and older, but even so more than half (53%) are more interested in original content.

Netflix is far and away the current leader when it comes to original content, Hub found. Among all TV viewers, 29% believe that Netflix offers the best originals, with CBS (6%) and Amazon Prime Video (5%) the next closest. Younger viewers (16-34) love Netflix even more, with 38% seeing it as having the best original content; Disney+ is second at 7%.

Unsurprisingly then, Netflix ranks as the most indispensable service among younger viewers, per the study. When asked to pick the TV network or streaming services they would keep if they could only have five, 44% of the 16-34 age group said Netflix. Streamers rounded out three of the four other spots—Disney+ (26%), Hulu (23%) and Amazon Prime Video (18%)—while ESPN (22%) was the only traditional TV network that ranked in their top five.

Traditional TV had a better showing among those 35 and older, making up four out of the five must-have networks. CBS (32%) led the way, followed by NBC (29%), Netflix (29%), ABC (29%) and ESPN (18%).

As far as drawing new customers, strategies by Netflix, HBO Max and Disney+ to promote exclusive original content in 2021 has helped drive subscriptions. For Netflix, 88% of new subscribers (from December 2020 and January 2021) said that the streamer’s plan to release a new original movie each week was a reason for signing up; 59% said it was the main reason. With HBO Max, the plan to release all 2021 Warner Bros. movies on the service the same day as theaters influenced 77% of new subscribers (main reason for 48%). And 68% of new Disney+ subscribers said the streaming service being home for certain new films and franchise titles was part of their decision (only 21% said it was the main reason).

“So far, Netflix has not only withstood the threats posed by new entrants in the ever-intensifying streaming wars—it has thrived,” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study. “But WarnerMedia’s and Disney’s moves to prioritize streaming distribution are already reaping rewards and have the potential to significantly disrupt the TV service pecking order. What remains to be seen is whether this streaming-first strategy will transform HBO Max and Disney+ into Netflix replacements, or whether they’ll remain as Netflix supplements.”

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