Older shows punch above their weight on SVODs

14 April, 2024

Image: Seinfeld, NBC

The relentless pace of new series premiering in recent years has been a boon for consumers. The problem faced by audiences in the peak-streaming era is sorting through the mountain of available content, rather than not having enough options to choose from. This state of affairs hasn’t been such a positive for the platforms however.

A catalog composition analysis using Parrot Analytics Content Panorama reveals how the massive spike in the number of recent series available on streamers has not led to an equal rise in demand for these shows. In fact, older shows tend to overperform relative to the share of platforms’ catalogs they make up.


Across major US SVOD catalogs, 52% of shows available on these platforms premiered in 2019 or later. However, while more than half of titles on these SVODs were released since 2019, these newest shows only account for 33% of demand for all shows available on these platforms. It is not surprising that 2019 is something of an inflection point. It was a watershed year in the streaming wars that saw the competition for subscribers heat up. Notably, both Apple TV+ and Disney+ launched that year so all the shows that those platforms have released since their launch helped to balloon post-2019 number of series.

One factor likely driving the overperformance of older content is 20/20 hindsight. Having seen which older shows audiences want helps streamers separate the wheat from the chaff and pick winning shows that will keep audiences engaged on their platform. New content by its very nature is untested.

From a business perspective, this data (sadly) validates some of the less consumer friendly moves we have seen from streamers this year including canceling series or removing them from streaming entirely and an overall slowdown in the pace of output of new streaming originals. The path to streaming profitability will likely mean less content, but the silver lining is that there already are more new shows than audiences have the attention for.

How can legacy entertainment companies be sure they are best monetizing their libraries of content when licensing these shows to streaming platforms? It is impossible to quickly replicate the time-tested appeal of long-running shows so these content arms dealers should be able to extract a premium price for licensing the rights to this content but having a true understanding of the value of this content to platforms is essential.

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