Image: Alex, a Digital Original Series from ViaPlay
The ongoing growth of digital original series – TV shows commissioned for a first-run showing on a SVOD platform – has been one of the more reliable trends of the past few years. With Netflix committed to spending $8 billion on content including an increasing focus on international digital originals, other services around the world have ramped up commissioning their own digital originals and co-productions.
As well as global services like Netflix, Amazon and YouTube Premium, regional and local players both large and small are moving into this content space by commissioning exclusive first-run digital original series. Services like US’s Hulu, India’s ALT Balaji, New Zealand’s Lightbox, Australia’s STAN and Showmax in both Europe and Africa to name a handful of the many examples.
Even the US broadcast giants are moving into this space, as exemplified by CBS launching two titles exclusively on their CBS All Access service.
The ever-increasing rate of digital original production
This chart shows how the number of newly-premiering digital original series per year has grown since the very first one hit screens in 2010:
Of note is that not even 6 months through 2018, the number of released, new digital originals in the world has nearly exceeded the total number released in 2016 as a whole. As many digital originals from previous years are still active and releasing their 2nd, 3rd or more seasons in 2018, the number of active digital original series has certainly never been higher.
Digital Originals are less and less a North American phenomenon
The number of new players in the digital original space coupled with an increasing international focus from the US-based global platforms mean that North America’s share of productions is steadily shrinking:
In 2016, 70% of all digital original tv series in the world were US or Canadian productions. Although the majority of the world’s digital originals are still produced in North America, so far in 2018 only 57% are made there.
The biggest winner from this shift has been Europe: The share of digital originals from that region has more than doubled since 2016 and in 2018 so far, 17% of all digital original series are European productions.
The share of productions from Asia-Pacific has also risen, with that share having doubled since just last year.
The share of the world’s digital originals produced in MENA and India has stayed steady across the three years, so the only region beside North America to have a declining share is LATAM. This is an interesting result as Netflix has already proved that LATAM digital originals can be hits with titles like Club De Cuervos, 3% and Ingobernable. It seems that with the notable exception of Mexican service Blim, local services are not pursuing the opportunity of commissioning their own digital originals with the same enthusiasm of other regions.
More and more services are competing with Netflix
As stated, the number of services that offer digital originals is growing every year while Netflix is spending more than ever on content to expand viewership. The following chart shows the proportion of new Netflix titles compared to the entire digital original space in each region:
52% of the newly premiering digital original TV series in North America in 2018 so far are Netflix series. The increase in content investment for 2018 by Netflix is apparent in this region as despite more competition, this result is higher than the 43% share for Netflix titles in 2017. However, there is still half of 2018 to go so this could yet change as competitors in the region also step up their content efforts.
In Europe, the Netflix share was 60% in 2016 but this is now hovering closer to the 25% mark for 2017/18. Netflix produced the same number of European digital original titles in 2016, 2017 and in the 2018 so far, but increased competition from services like Viaplay have greatly reduced their “market share” of newly-premiering titles. It will be interesting to see if Netflix can regain a leadership position in Europe for the share of new-release titles in the future.
The opposite trend is true in APAC. Netflix has historically been responsible for 27% – 33% of new digital originals in the region with the rest of the market being comprised primarily of Amazon and iFlix titles. However, so far in 2018 Netflix is already responsible for 67% of new digital original series with a slew of new titles, chiefly Japanese anime.
At this point, it is worth restating that the metrics being analyzed in this article are based on the number of completely new digital originals released each year, which naturally does not account for returning titles. In effect, we are describing a measure of content acceleration towards providing increased choice for subscribers.
For Netflix to command more than half (52%) of all new North American digital original releases of 2018 thus far, as well as all their renewed existing titles, is a reminder of the strength of the position Netflix is currently (still) enjoying within the streaming industry.