Netflix

Hulu Plus remains ahead of Netflix in licensing current top-rated TV shows, according to Piper Jaffray analysis

Netflix continues to outpace Amazon.com’s subscription-video service on the content-licensing front, delivering substantially more of the top 50 movies and top 75 TV shows from the last few years, according to an analysis by Piper Jaffray & Co.

“Relative to Amazon… Netflix is still leading by a wide margin,” Piper Jaffray senior research analyst Michael Olson wrote in a note Wednesday.

Of the 75 top-rated television shows over the last four seasons, Netflix currently offers 32% and Amazon’s Prime Instant Video has 12%. On the other hand, Netflix’s library of top TV shows from that time period declined 2% from June 2013 to June 2014, whereas Amazon increased its count of those shows by 5% in the past 12 months, according to the Piper Jaffray report.

On movies, Netflix provides more recent titles — with 10 of the 50 box-office leaders from 2013, versus three for Amazon — while Amazon’s library includes more top movies that are two years old, according to the report. Of the top 50 movies for each of the last three years, Netflix has 12%, Redbox Instant by Verizon has 7%, Amazon Prime has 6%  and Hulu Plus has 1%, Piper Jaffray found.

Meanwhile, Hulu’s subscription service delivers nearly three times as many recent top-rated shows as Netflix. Hulu Plus has 57% of the top 75 series from the 2013-’14 season, compared with 20% for Netflix and 9% for Amazon.

Hulu is owned by Disney, 21st Century Fox and NBCUniversal, and was originally formed to let their respective networks deliver catch-up online viewing of their primetime shows. “While definitely a competitor, we view Hulu as increasingly less of a direct threat as Netflix focuses on original content,” Olson said.

SEE ALSO: Netflix to Focus on Adding Higher-Rated and Exclusive Titles, CFO Says

Piper Jaffray based its analysis on annual box-office revenue for movies and full-season ratings for TV shows (excluding sports such as NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”). Reps for Amazon and Netflix declined to comment on the report.

But Amazon makes decisions about which content to acquire decisions based on different metrics: digital purchases of movies and TV shows through its Instant Video transactional service. Indeed, Amazon head of music and video Bill Carr has said that trove of data gives it a competitive advantage in determining what Prime members will want to watch. And of course, Amazon purchasing data doesn’t exactly correspond with TV ratings or box office receipts.

There’s no question that Netflix, by stocking more hit shows and movies, would to some degree appeal to a wider base of consumers than Amazon’s service.

But Netflix hasn’t decisively won the SVOD war: Amazon remains aggressive in looking for exclusive TV licensing deals to expand its 40,000-plus title Prime Instant Video service.

The e-commerce company reached a deal this spring with HBO for older seasons of hit shows, which is worth at least $200 million, according to analyst estimates. Amazon also cut a Fox deal to snatch exclusive streaming rights to “24” away from Netflix, and has a novel pact with CBS to stream episodes of “Under the Dome” and “Extant” four days after they air. And, like Netflix, Amazon Studios is building a steady pipeline of original shows.

Olson speculated that Netflix’s library of top TV shows and movies will contract as the company boosts spending on original programming, which he said was “a prudent strategy assuming ongoing ability to create hits.”

But Netflix CFO David Wells, speaking at an investor conference in May, said the company will “continue to expand the content library meaningfully” with a greater emphasis on licensing exclusive and “four- and five-star content.”

Piper Jaffray maintains a “neutral” rating on Netflix based on valuation, with Olson adding that “we have confidence in ability for Netflix to achieve near-term estimates.” On Tuesday Netflix stock hit an all-time high after Goldman Sachs’ Heath Terry upgraded the stock (from “hold” to “buy”) based on international growth expectations and the streamer’s acquisition of kids’ programming.

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