Beyond originals: The power of licensed content in the streaming era

4 May, 2023

Streaming platforms have long relied on a combination of original and licensed content to attract and retain subscribers. While original content helps establish a unique brand identity and drives new subscribers, licensed content serves as the backbone for these platforms, providing a rich and diverse library of titles that cater to a broad range of tastes and preferences. 

Moreover, the streaming industry has witnessed a shift in power dynamics as major studios, networks, and production companies, once content providers for a range of players, have now launched their own streaming services. This move has resulted in the fragmentation of content distribution and has made access to popular licensed content an increasingly challenging and expensive endeavor for streaming platforms. As platforms continue to compete for eyeballs and wallet share, the strategic acquisition and management of licensed content have become vital factors in determining the winners and losers in the streaming wars.

The chart below underscores the importance of non-streaming original content for major streaming platforms in the US market. It reveals that for these platforms, non-original titles comprise the majority of the most in-demand shows. Platforms like Peacock and Hulu, which boast extensive libraries of licensed content, only have one platform original among their top 25 most in-demand shows (Poker Face for Peacock and The Orville for Hulu).

Many of these popular shows fall into the category of "snackable TV," or content that is easy to consume, often light-hearted, and does not demand significant emotional or intellectual investment from the viewer. Designed for shorter viewing sessions or multitasking, these shows have transitioned from linear TV to streaming platforms in significant numbers, with several becoming top performers. For instance, Saturday Night Live and The Office are among the most in-demand shows on Peacock in Q1 2023, while The SimpsonsIt's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Family Guy enjoy similar success on Hulu.

Even Disney+, known for releasing numerous original shows based on popular IPs like Star Wars and Marvel, has more non-original shows among its most popular offerings. Paramount+ similarly capitalizes on its popular IPs, such as the Taylor Sheridan Universe and the Star Trek franchise, to attract and retain its core fanbase. Among the top 25 most in-demand shows on Paramount+, five are originals, with four belonging to one of these IPs.

It's worth noting that not all non-original shows are licensed from third-party companies. In some cases, these shows may be owned in-house by a corporate sibling of the streaming platform. This is particularly evident with HBO Max. Only four of the 25 most in-demand shows premiered on the platform, but eight of them, including hits like Game of ThronesThe Last of Us, and legacy shows The Wire and The Sopranos, premiered on the HBO network. A similar trend can be observed with Paramount+, where 12 of the 25 most in-demand shows come from companies under the same corporate umbrella, such as CBS, Nickelodeon, and Showtime.

Power of Licensed Content in the Streaming Era.png

Get a glimpse into the future of global audience demand measurement for TV shows, movies and talent and learn from consolidated insights and strategic thinking focused on the entertainment industry.

Exclusive global, regional and market-specific content and talent analyses
Rank 15,000+ talent in 50+ markets across all platforms
Rank 20k+ TV shows and 12k+ movies in 50+ markets across all platforms

The Global Television Demand Report

  • Truly understand the global SVOD originals landscape
  • Comprehensive platform market share benchmarks
  • Released each quarter covering 10 global markets
  • Get exclusive access to our comprehensive reports
  • Available for FREE with a DEMAND360LITE subscription