As most streamers move away from unscripted content, FAST platforms are a place where unscripted shines

2 February, 2024

Image: Pawn Stars, History

In addition to an overall slowdown in new streaming series premieres, we have measured a move away from unscripted content from streamers. The share of unscripted streaming original shows has fallen each quarter since Q4 2021 when 26% of all streaming original shows were unscripted series.

Two factors are behind this shift. The peak pandemic years of 2020-21 saw a boom in streamers releasing new unscripted shows. Q4 2021 was the high water mark when 37.4% of new streaming shows that premiered that quarter were unscripted. However, from 2022 onward there has been a transition back to more scripted content from streamers. The fourth quarter of 2023 punctuated this change. Fewer than 10% of new streaming series to premiere last quarter were unscripted - a record low in the past three years.


For most streamers this pivot looks like a smart move. Across major SVODs, the share of demand for unscripted shows on-platform underperforms the share of catalog that these shows make up. Slowing down the amount of new original unscripted series could help these platforms rebalance their catalog towards the content most demanded by their subscribers.

The decision to make Discovery+ content available on Max is noticeable. More than half of the shows available to stream on Max are unscripted, well ahead of any other major streamer in the US. Despite a majority of titles on Max being unscripted, these only account for 37.2% of demand on a platform dominated by premium HBO content.  

Contrast this with Peacock, the only SVOD where unscripted content is essentially pulling its weight. 35.4% of shows on Peacock are unscripted and these account for 33.4% of demand on the platform. The key to Peacock’s success here are highly in-demand shows from Bravo available on the platform.


FAST platforms buck the trend when it comes to how their unscripted content performs. On three of the four major FAST streamers, unscripted shows make up a larger share of demand than their share of catalog, reversing what we saw on most SVODs. These platforms have filled their libraries with unscripted content that audiences want to watch. On FAST platforms, reality shows like Hell’s KitchenPawn Stars, and Dance Moms regularly feature among the most in-demand titles. Shows like these are precisely the type of bingeable content with many seasons that keep people engaged on-platform watching ads, which powers the business model of these free streamers. 


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