Heading into October, the peak time of year for horror content, it is looking like a close match-up between HBO Max and Paramount+ to be the platform with the most in-demand catalog of horror movies. HBO Max topped the ranking of US streaming-video on demand (SVOD) services by total demand for on-platform horror movies but demand for the total catalog of horror films on Paramount+ was less than 5% behind HBO Max.
Last month, HBO Max had the largest share of demand for its total film catalog so it is not surprising to see it also topping the ranking in the horror genre. However, Paramount+’s close second place rank was an improvement on its overall relative position last month and shows how the horror genre is a particular strength for the platform.
While it is a tight race between the two platforms with the most in-demand horror catalogs, there is a noticeable gap between Paramount+ and third ranked Amazon Prime Video. In September, total demand for horror movies on Amazon was only 73.3% of the total demand for HBO Max’s horror catalog. The most in-demand horror film on Amazon Prime Video for the month was A Quiet Place Part II. However, this was also available to stream on Paramount+ so Amazon isn’t getting any exclusivity benefit from this title to help attract subscribers.
Demand for horror movies on Hulu lagged other platforms. However, it seems to be wisely leveraging the Predator franchise. The latest movie in the franchise, Prey, is a Hulu original and was the most in-demand horror movie on the platform in September with 19.14 times the average movie demand. Predator and Predator 2 rounded out the three most in-demand horror films on Hulu in September, and Alien vs. Predator ranked as number five. Once the calendar flipped to October, Hulu launched its branded Huluween to better showcase these genre titles.
Shudder is an interesting example of a niche platform that has built its entire offering around the horror genre. Despite this, the total demand for all horror movies available to stream on Shudder still trails most other streamers even though Shudder had the largest number of horror movies available to stream of the above platforms. The fact that the quantity of horror titles on Shudder doesn’t add up to a larger total demand relative to other streamers shows that its horror movies are targeting a niche horror audience compared to the horror blockbusters driving demand for the genre on other platforms.
Streamers in the US look set to miss out on some of the most in-demand horror content going into October. The most in-demand horror movie in September was Jordan Peele’s Nope, which had 50.57 times the demand of the average movie. Nope will eventually get an exclusive streaming window on Peacock, but until that point (still unannounced) audiences will have to rent or buy it to stream or go see it in theaters. Even without Nope, Peacock looks well positioned with the most in-demand horror movie that was available to stream on SVODs in September. The Black Phone should make the platform a destination for horror lovers seeking out this film.
Don’t Worry Darling, which benefited from a huge amount of buzz leading up to its premiere on September 23rd, will be available to stream on HBO Max eventually but not until after Halloween. Streaming’s loss is theater’s gain in this case. Horror is a genre that succeeds in getting audiences into theaters for the communal experience of being scared. As an example, Smile was originally scheduled for a streaming-only release on Paramount+ but performed so well in test screenings that Paramount decided to release the film theatrically.
While these numbers show which platforms are poised to have a scarily successful October, there is always a lot of action in the horror genre around Halloween so expect things to shift. For example, in the first four days of October, Hocus Pocus 2 was the most in-demand “horror” movie in the US with 59.39 times the average movie demand. As surprising as it might seem, this — plus the release of Marvel’s one-off Werewolf by Night — could make family friendly Disney+ a streaming destination for Halloween fans.