August 8, 2019

Content Analytics: Netflix wins when it comes to audience engagement

As the streaming wars heat up and companies like NBC Universal and Disney prepare to launch their own services, many are wondering if Netflix will be able to survive — especially since popular titles including Friends and The Office are set to leave the streaming behemoth over the next few years. But it may not be as dire as some assume. Netflix has ramped up creation of its own hit series (just look at the enduring success of Stranger Things), and continues to add big showrunner names like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy to its portfolio.

Recently, we did a social audience engagement analysis* to see how Netflix is stacking up against the traditional media companies and other streaming platforms. Because there’s no good methodology for direct, cross-platform measurement that takes into account streaming and network programming, engagement data is an important equalizer. When using engagement as a lens, Netflix originals out-perform content from traditional media companies and other streaming platforms.

Diving into the Content Analytics for Netflix

Our Content Analytics revealed a few key insights about why Netflix is still in this fight for the long haul. First off, original shows from Netflix have the second largest social audience across all content producers we examined, and it owns three of the top 15 most engaged-with programs (13 Reasons Why, Queer Eye, Black Mirror).

Furthermore, the loss of Disney originals (which many have cited as a huge blow for Netflix) may not hit the service too hard: of the top 25 programs on the platform in terms of social engagement, only three are owned by Disney, and Disney originals as a whole only contributed 6% to the total conversation on original content.

Also important is that Netflix isn’t relying on just a handful of tentpole shows to keep its viewers engaged. We examined the contribution the top five original shows make to a network’s total social engagement, and Netflix’s account for 46%, about on par with broadcast networks including ABC, NBC and Fox which offer a wide variety of programs — and opposite other options (cable, premium, other streaming platforms) which often rely on just a few big titles/genres to draw eyeballs.

And finally, we discovered that Rhimes and Murphy are a key win for Netflix: their programs attracted 8.8% of the entire social TV audience (as measured from 1/1/18 – 4/30/19), something they’ll undoubtedly bring to the table with their upcoming Netflix originals.

Expansion opportunities

From a content portfolio strategy perspective, our Content Analytics show three key untapped audiences that Netflix has yet to go after in a significant way: sports, Hispanic and lifestyle. Each of these audience groups overlaps less than 5% with the current social audience for Netflix original content — so solutions for these segments could further support subscriber growth and engagement.

If Netflix can continue cranking out new originals, expand into underserved areas and harness the social power of showrunners like Rhimes and Murphy, the service should be able to weather the upcoming explosion of streaming platforms.

Date range of study: January 1, 2018 through April 30, 2019. Original content only. Excludes specials, sports and news.