Analysis: Content Spending Will Slow in 2023 as Streamers Pivot to Profitability; Disney, Netflix to Lead Way
The new year may be just a few days old, but that doesn’t mean that the analysts at market research firm Ampere Analysis have taken a holiday. On Tuesday, the London-based firm released a new survey on expected trends in content spending for 2023.
Ampere’s data suggests that most streaming services are due to cut way back on the growth of their content spends in the new year. Global spending on content grew by 6% in 2022 to $238 billion, and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services collectively spent over $26B on original content last year.
The data from Ampere shows that the firm still expects growth in content spending, but at a much slower rate of 2% globally in 2023. Ampere expects Disney to lead the way, with expenditures on original content to surpass $10.5 billion. Warner Bros. Discovery will overtake Comcast to come in second place and is set to spend $9.5 billion on originals this year.
The news that WBD will spend so much on content might seem to fly in the face of everything going on at the company in the last year, with CEO David Zaslav slashing his way to over $5 billion in budget cuts. But WBD is one of the biggest movie studios in Hollywood, and upcoming films like “Dune: Part Two” and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” carry high production costs, as do shows like “House of the Dragon,” which is a cornerstone for WBD’s premium streamer HBO Max.
Ampere’s data also shows that Netflix will lead the way among SVOD services, contributing over 25% of global SVOD original content investment. Netflix announced over the summer that it would maintain its $17 billion overall content budget through 2023, including originals and acquired shows. That amount is the same number it spent in 2021 and 2022.
The growth slowdown comes at a time when streamers are pivoting their focus to profitability. The market no longer rewards streamers who rack up millions of new customers without a sound strategy for monetizing them. Unique content is a highly effective lure for bringing in new paid users and keeping them subscribed, so streamers have to ensure that they make allocating money for originals a priority.
One area that might see more investment from streamers in 2023 according to Ampere is unscripted shows. Such series, like Netflix’s “Nailed It,” are still popular among audiences, and cost a lot less to produce, with limited special effects budgets and no need to pay a big cast of established performers. This is essentially one of the cornerstones of Zaslav’s tenure at WBD, given his background running the mostly unscripted lifestyle Discovery networks.
Hannah Walsh, Research Manager at Ampere Analysis said, “We are already seeing a shift in content commissioning to incorporate a greater volume of cheaper unscripted formats.”