Old shows are still hot

25 January, 2023

Although most media and audience attention is usually focused on the newest hit shows released, following the momentum created by the release and all the marketing efforts involved, a considerable number of shows managed to stand the test of time, remaining very popular decades after premiering and even years after any season has been released. These shows, often called ‘legacy’ shows, are exceptionally valuable due to their longevity, generating demand for many years. Thanks to their rewatchability and appeal to different generations, in the streaming era these shows can be key to convincing audiences to stay subscribed to a platform.

Considering that a ‘legacy’ show is a highly in-demand show that had its first season before 2012 and ended before 2020, the most in-demand ‘legacy’ show in the US is Game of Thrones, with 80.63 times more demand than the average show in the last quarter of 2022. The show premiered in 2011 and had its last season released in 2019, and still one of the most successful shows in television history. It received a boot in attention this year from the long-awaited release of its prequel House of the Dragon.

AMC’s Breaking Bad ranked second on the list, followed by CBS’s The Big Bang Theory. The top 3 legacy shows have a sequel or a prequel that has been current in the last years, showing the importance of releasing new shows to revive and keep high the demand for the older elements of a franchise. 

The ranking shows the strength of the following genres when it comes to legacy: sitcoms such as The Big Bang TheoryThe Office, and Friends; animes like Dragon Ball ZBleach and Naruto; and children’s animations such as My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Only the top two shows doesn’t fall into one of these genres.


The vast majority of the so-called legacy shows are licensed titles from networks, with ABC, NBC, Nickelodeon, and CBS being the lead providers of these shows to streaming platforms. The chart below reveals which SVOD platforms rely most on content that premiered before 2012. HBO Max had 34.5% of its catalog demand coming from legacy shows in 2022 Q4, while these shows made up 24.4% of the platform’s catalog. 

The gap between legacy shows’ demand and supply shares is higher in HBO Max than in any other platform besides Netflix, which has a very small share of legacy shows in its catalog. This means that legacy shows on HBO Max outperform legacy shows in other platforms’ catalogs. HBO Max’s strength in legacy content comes from the many successful shows from HBO that are available on the streaming platform, which includes classic shows like Game of ThronesThe Sopranos, and The Wire, shows that have a perennial demand.

Other platforms that rely heavily on legacy content include Peacock Premium, Paramount Plus, and Hulu. The three platforms benefit from legacy shows produced by a network that falls under the same corporate umbrella. In the case of Peacock Premium, a large share of the legacy shows on its catalog come from NBC, which includes hits like The Office and Parks and Recreations. Paramount Plus has a large number of shows from Paramount Global-owned Nickelodeon and Hulu benefits from Fox content like Futurama and The X-Files.

Netflix is a special case. The platform has relatively few legacy shows on its catalog, but some of these titles are very well-known hits like Breaking Bad and Seinfeld. Netflix also takes advantage of being able to produce or acquire its own legacy shows, like Black Mirror and Arrested Development and Trailer Park Boys.


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