The last several years has seen a drastic and ongoing change in the way viewers consume television shows. As more and more consumers turn to online options, linear TV is becoming less relevant and the number of cable subscribers continues to fall. A report issued by The Convergence Research Group estimates that nearly 25% of US households won't have a traditional cable subscription by the end of 2017.
With more and more people opting for streaming services offered by Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Hulu, and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX) HBO, the race for the hearts and minds of consumers in on, and the service that provides that best content will likely emerge victorious. Millennials represent the largest generation and most-coveted demographic, and when asked which service had the best original content, they overwhelmingly picked Netflix.
By a landslide
In the survey, 820 millennials were asked the question "Which company has the best original content?" An astonishing 79% chose Netflix. Premium channels including HBO and Showtime collectively garnered 14% of the vote, while Hulu and Amazon trailed with 4% and 3% respectively. The results are further supported by recent Emmy nominations, where Netflix saw nearly double its haul compared to the prior year. HBO has led the nominations for 17 straight years, and while it still tops that list with 110, Netflix is quickly narrowing the lead with a total of 91 nods.
The race for dominance is far from over. Netflix plans to spend a whopping $6 billion for content this year. Amazon.com, meanwhile, has been increasing its budget for new shows, saying that it would double its investment in video and triple the amount of original content compared to 2016, plowing an estimated $4.5 billion into content for 2017. With some of the deepest pockets among the competition, the e-commerce juggernaut will continue to increase its spending in an attempt to overwhelm the streaming pioneer.
Looking to the future
Netflix has long believed that the best shows would find the widest audiences, and it has consistently demonstrated that with older hits such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, as well as more recent fare like Stranger Things, Jessica Jones, and The Crown.
The company isn't stopping there. Netflix recently secured a deal with renowned television writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, who helmed such projects as Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder, with the lure of greater artistic independence and creative freedom. Netflix also coaxed late-night comedian David Letterman out of retirement for a show, while enlisting such well-known talents as Jerry Seinfeld, the Coen brothers, and Steven Soderbergh for new projects.
Netflix also made the first acquisition in its 20-year history, bringing aboard legendary comic house Millarworld and its founder Mark Millar, the creator behind such big screen hits as Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers, and Logan. The company plans to leverage Millar's existing content as well as future creations to produce movies, series, and children's shows.
The world is not enough
The stakes are considerable and the competition is growing in the streaming space. There were an estimated 776 million broadband subscribers worldwide in 2016, many of which are potential streaming customers, and that number is expected to reach 859 million by 2022. Netflix currently boasts 104 million subscribers, leaving it enormous opportunity for growth.
As Netflix produces more original shows, the associated costs can be absorbed by a growing number of customers worldwide. The surest and best way for the company to continue on its current successful trajectory is with an ever-growing library of shows that appeal to wide variety of current and prospective viewers. If this recent survey is any indication, Netflix has found the recipe for winning the battle of quality content.