On Netflix, Everything Seems So New

Life is full of firsts. First kiss, car, kid, and of course, first episodes. From where I sit, next to millions of streaming data points, I obsess over how TV taps into the visceral need for newness. Today, it is the ‘original’ TV series that most effectively satisfies the desire for something fresh.

So how do you measure freshness? How do you grade a new show on Netflix and define its value? At a minimum you need to start with actual stream data to assess appeal. Some examples:

Q: How big are the biggest originals? A: Season Four of Orange is the New Black’s magnitude at launch was more than 10 times as high as streaming of an average show.

Q: How fast did a series fade in popularity and what was its staying power? A: Stranger Things had two full months of significantly elevated streaming. A notable window to leverage license value.


So just how important is originality in the streaming space? In our latest OTT Viewership report, Netflix originals were up 91% in December (vs. year ago) and that was a slow month. While Hulu originals also grew by 11%, the service has struggled somewhat of late. For Hulu, a steady softening of overall stream growth culminated in an actual streaming decline of 1% in December 2016, (vs. year ago). A variety of factors played a role, one of which was lower-than-expected streaming of original TV. Part of the challenge for Hulu may be limited number of new originals. As of December 2016, Netflix streamed over five times the number of original titles: 141 on Netflix and 24 on Hulu.

But that was 2016, this is 2017, and a rebound for Hulu might just be underway. As of January 22, the service saw growth in streams of 6% from a year ago, and the service is ramping up on fresh content. Shut Eye, a new Hulu series had a solid start in December. Streaming Wonderland, a whimsical take on the “yule log” surprisingly hit the sixth spot on our Hulu movies chart in December. New series The Handmaid’s Tale, a show based on Marvel’s Runaways as well as a possible TV reboot of the cult film, The Warriors are all prospective hits in the making.

When it comes to Netflix, TV originals are the first thing you hear about and often the first thing you see on the platform. On an episode level, the top forty-one episodes streamed on Netflix in December 2016 were originals. You would need to scroll down to the 42nd most streamed episode to find a non-original!


In film Netflix is seeing success as it builds a roster of in-house produced content. Netflix Studios is now a top 10 movie production studio on the service and had three films in the top 20 in December. During the month Spectral, a new Netflix original produced in-house, was second only to the blockbuster Jungle Book.

As we see the number of new streaming services and new originals grow, the question is whether viewers will still be looking to streaming services for that “something new”? With talent including Robert DeNiro, Jerry Seinfeld, Emma Stone, Matthew Weiner, Meryl Streep and Jonah Hill all crafting new TV originals I think we may have our answer.

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