Digital original content is a key part of a streaming platform’s strategy, driving signups and keeping subscribers around for more. Here we compare the make up Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime’s digital original catalogs. This gives insight into the rivals’ differing strategies and direction going forward. Also we analyze supply and demand of digital original content in the US and identify which genres of content are oversaturated and where content opportunities lie.
The three largest digital original genres and their relative size are consistent across these platforms. Drama is the largest followed by Comedy and Documentary respectively. While Drama and Comedy make up about 50% of digital original titles on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, on Hulu they account for over 70% of digital original content.
Hulu has deprioritized digital original Children’s content. The share of Children’s digital original shows is 3.9 times larger on Netflix and 4.6 times larger on Amazon Prime Video. This makes sense when we consider Hulu’s role in the broader Disney portfolio. Disney has made Disney+ its home for kids content, thereby allowing Hulu to focus on adult oriented shows.
An example of how the platform has leaned into this strategy is with the Horror genre, which is particularly skewed toward adult audiences. With a 6.3% share of titles, it is the 4th largest digital original genre on this platform and the largest share for this genre across the three platforms above. Not only has Hulu created a larger share of digital original Horror content than its rivals, it has been successful doing so. Its 6.3% share of Horror titles accounts for 11.5% of total US demand for Hulu digital originals. This indicates the platform’s horror titles such as Castle Rock and Into the Dark are punching above their weight.
In the chart below a genre’s share of digital original titles is plotted against its share of demand in the US. This is a useful way to identify genres where there is growth opportunity and genres that have become oversaturated.
Drama accounts for the largest share of digital original titles and yet its demand share is still larger than would be expected given its share of titles. This is likely driven in part by tentpole digital original series. These are often high cost, attention grabbing dramas heavily marketed to draw in subscribers and form a cornerstone of a streaming platform's strategy.
Demand for Action/Adventure content strongly overindexes its share of titles. At 3.5% it is the second smallest category in terms of share of titles. However, with a demand share of 15.1% in the US, it is behind only Drama and Comedy! This genre has growth opportunity.
Amazon Prime Video has the largest share of digital original titles in this genre and with hits such as The Boys, Hanna, and Hunters, has already been tapping into demand for the genre. Disney+ is also positioned to meet demand in this genre. The Mandalorian has already proven itself to be a mega hit in the genre and the platform’s slate of upcoming Marvel series should continue to feed hungry audiences.
Aside from Drama and Action/Adventure, most digital original genres have a demand share relatively on par with their share of titles. The Documentary and Reality genres are the ones that fall notably short of expectations. It is important to note that unscripted content in these genres is among the cheapest to produce, especially when compared to a star-studded drama or cinematic action series. So from a financial perspective, they are likely fulfilling their purpose. While these series might be relatively cheap to produce, it is important to realize that they are competing with a large number of shows in the genre for audiences’ demand that is stretched increasingly thin.