Which streamers are using sci-fi and fantasy to win over audiences?

21 September, 2023

Image: Foundation, Apple TV+

Sci-fi and Fantasy have proven to be two of the most consistently popular genres with audiences. Some of the most enduring franchises and buzziest shows in recent years have come from these genres. Success comes at a price however - often these shows end up being some of the most expensive to make. Platforms have used these winning genres differently to help get a leg up in the fight for audience attention.


Apple TV+ has clearly focused on filling its catalog with sci-fi content. 10.1% of shows on the platform are sci-fi, a larger share allocated to this genre than any other major streamer in the US. These shows are key to driving demand for Apple TV+ - 22.5% of demand for shows available on the platform was for a sci-fi series. Foundation was the most in-demand sci-fi series on Apple TV+ in August. Its second season premiered in July and has consistently had higher demand than the first season of the show.

Disney+ and Paramount+ ranked as the platforms with the second and third largest share of their catalogs from the sci-fi genre. Demand for sci-fi series on these two streamers is driven primarily by a cornerstone franchise on each - Star Trek on Paramount+ and Star Wars on Disney+.

While Netflix and Max allocate a much smaller percentage of their catalog to sci-fi series (around 3-4%), they get some of the best return on this investment. The share of demand for the sci-fi series on these platforms is more than twice the share of sci-fi titles on each.


Netflix is the leader when it comes to fantasy content. A larger share of shows on Netflix were fantasy series (10.7%) than on any other platform. These shows made up an even larger share of demand (16.5%). Highly in-demand original fantasy series like The Witcher but also licensed shows like Outlander and Supernatural helped the streamer succeed with this genre.

Game of Thrones may be the most famous fantasy TV franchise. The original show and its sequel, House of the Dragon, on Max drove high demand for the genre on the platform. Even though the streamer is home to the most successful fantasy franchise on TV, Max hasn’t expanded aggressively into the genre. Only 5.6% of shows on the platform are fantasy series, one of the smallest catalog shares of SVODs in the US. However, this small share of titles still drives 10.6% of demand for shows on the platform.

While the Apple TV+ catalog is skewed heavily towards sci-fi content, it is the opposite case with fantasy. Only 2.8% of shows on Apple TV+ were in the fantasy genre, although these series punched above their weight and accounted for 5.3% of demand for shows on the platform.


Sci-fi content appeals to a remarkably balanced audience. The audience for this type of content is split 50/50 between men and women and nearly evenly distributed across generations. The audience for fantasy content is slightly more female-skewing. Gen Z makes up the largest age group for fantasy series, with each older generation accounting for a smaller share of the audience.  

While there might be slight differences in the audiences for sci-fi and fantasy, overall these two genres are some of the most broadly appealing, resonating with a range of audiences. This, combined with the fact that both genres tend to overperform on streamers make these shows a no-brainer for platforms looking to attract new subscribers.

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