That certainly sounds impressive. However, how much the sheer volume of selections available on any video-subscription service weighs on its perceived value is a different question. Quality, rather than quantity, is arguably far more important.
As of March 29, Amazon Prime Video offered 18,405 movies and 1,981 TV shows in the U.S., while Netflix stocked 4,563 movies and 2,445 series, according to an analysis by Wall Street research firm Barclays. In terms of tonnage, Hulu tops Netflix in both areas — with 3,588 shows and 6,656 movies.
Over the past year, Netflix’s overall catalog has shrunk by 28%, per the Barclays research note published Thursday. A major part of that stems from Netflix’s deal with Epix expiring in September 2015, representing about 2,000 movies. Among titles from Epix, now available on both Hulu and Amazon Prime, are “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”
Size does matter, Barclays opined. “In order to succeed, (over-the-top) platforms have to have a large and deep enough library that is constantly refreshed to keep consumers interested over a long period of time,” the analysts wrote.
But it’s not just about title count. To stand out, OTT services also must have a few “marquee, high-visibility and high production quality shows” to attract and retain subs, the Barclays analysts said, citing as examples Netflix’s “House of Cards” and the “Star Trek” reboot on CBS All Access.
In its analysis, Barclays cited InstantWatcher.com, JustWatch.com and Somethingtostream.com, which monitor titles on streaming services.
Netflix declined to comment on the Barclays study. In the past, it has disputed the accuracy of third-party estimates about size of its streaming lineup, noting that titles are continuously added and removed the service.
And Netflix has made no secret of the fact that it’s been strategically shifting away from licensing non-exclusive content, toward original series and movies you can’t get anywhere else. The company estimates it will spend $5 billion on content in 2016, rising to more than $6 billion next year, investing about 5% of its cash content budget in original films.
Original movies set to hit Netflix in the second half of 2016 include “War Machine,” a satire starring Brad Pitt, and Christopher Guest’s ensemble comedy “Mascots.” Netflix films for 2017 include actioner “Bright” starring Will Smith and directed by David Ayer — with a $90 million budget — and Bong Joon-ho’s monster flick “Okja”.
It’s also worth noting that Netflix’s output deal for Disney films in the pay-TV window in the U.S. kicks in this fall.
“Our focus has shifted to provide great movies and TV series for our members that are exclusive to Netflix,” chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement last fall regarding the end of the Epix licensing deal.
Of course, both Amazon and Hulu are similarly prepped to write checks to acquire or produce exclusive content, with Amazon Studios in particular showing a growing appetite for original films in recent months.
But the point is that just having a bigger bucket of content doesn’t equate to superior entertainment value — YouTube, after all, has a content library of a gazillion videos, beating the SVOD services by a long shot.
Pictured above: Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”