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Report: Content Libraries of Broadcast Series Raise Streamers’ Profile, Help Reduce Subscriber Churn

David Satin

The streaming wars may have quieted to a dull roar, but they are still very much alive. At this point, the streaming market is quite mature in the United States, and companies with streaming platforms have to do whatever they can in order to try and stand out from the competition. New research done by the media analytics firm Parrot shows which services may have the advantage currently.

Parrot’s study indicates that having a linear network can still be a big boost to media companies with streaming services. Shows that air on linear networks before bouncing to streaming the next day are often in high demand. Series like “The Simpsons” and “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” are regular top-10 performers for Hulu, presumably because of the next-day air strategy.

NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock is also seeing big gains in demand for its shows thanks to its linear networks. Almost one-third of Peacock’s users go to the service specifically to watch NBC content. That will pay dividends for the network as it moves all of its next-day series from Hulu to Peacock and transitions others — as it moves high-profile shows like long-running soap opera “Days of Our Lives” exclusively to streaming.

Having a large catalog of shows to fall back on once customers have burned through the big-budget originals offered by streaming platforms is becoming increasingly important. Broadcast titles make up a significant percentage of library demand for major streamers such as Peacock Premium (42%), Hulu (33.8%), and Paramount+ (30.1%). Such series help keep customers engaged on a streaming platform when they’re done with the flashier shows and movies. Having regular content to keep customers coming back to the service might not be the flashiest part of streaming programming, but it does provide the foundation for many services.

“A lot of pure-play streamers have to spend billions of dollars a year renting library content,” Paramount chief financial officer Naveen Chopra said, according to Parrot. “We have that in-house. Library content is responsible for a large share of viewing on streaming services and it’s critical to subscriber retention.”

The numbers from Parrot also reveal an intriguing gender skew among the various streaming services. The data suggests that female-skewing audiences are more interested in Peacock and Hulu, whereas male-skewing audiences lean heavily toward the genre programming on Disney+.

Those results are almost certainly a product of the glut of original Star Wars and Marvel content that has come to Disney+ this year. Shows like “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and “Moon Knight” certainly drew plenty of female viewers, but the male segment of their audience is likely much higher.

In fact, demand for original sci-fi drama and superhero shows is likely to be much higher on streaming in general. That’s likely due to the relatively high cost to produce such shows. Audiences know that streamers are willing to shell out big bucks for such series in order to make a splash, whereas broadcast networks are more firmly established and therefore generally allocate their dollars more carefully. That’s why broadcast networks see more demand for reality and talk shows with lower budgets.

In the end, what the data points to is that media companies should continue to use all of the resources available to them, even if linear TV continues to slowly die off. NBCU can continue boosting its profile by making the pilots of Peacock original shows available either on NBC or on Peacock’s free ad-supported TV (FAST) service. By ensuring that streaming and linear segments are working in concert, media companies with linear components can grow their advantage over other streaming platforms.

Peacock

Peacock is a subscription video streaming service from NBCUniversal that includes original shows, blockbuster movies, and classic television series. Peacock is home to “Yellowstone,” and “The Office,” as well as original hits like “Bel-Air.” You can also watch live sports including Sunday Night Football, Premier League, and exclusive MLB games. Peacock is also the exclusive home to many WWE events like WrestleMania. Starting Nov. 30, Premium Plus subscribers will be able to stream their local NBC feed in all 210 markets.

Peacock includes news, entertainment, sports, late-night, and reality from various NBCU properties including NBC, Bravo, and E!.

Peacock also includes the entire library of Bravo shows and has exclusives like “Below Deck: Down Under.” They also include live and on-demand access to Hallmark channels.

The company has acquired the rights to many classic shows like “Parks and Recreation,” and the entire Dick Wolf library including “Law & Order” and “Chicago Fire.”

The service also features blockbusters and critically-acclaimed films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and content acquired from Hollywood’s biggest studios.

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