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Netflix Widens Lead as Having ‘Best Original Programming,’ Beating HBO, Amazon, Hulu, Showtime on Survey

Netflix’s multibillion-dollar content binge is paying off — if, for no other reason, by boosting the perception that its original TV shows and movies are the best in the biz.

About 39% of U.S. consumers said Netflix, which dramatically outspends streaming and premium-cable rivals on content, offers the “best original programming” among subscription-video services, per a Morgan Stanley survey released Monday.

Netflix’s pole position as the content leader was up from 33% who rated it No. 1 on the Wall Street’s firm 2017 survey. This year, HBO was again a distant second at 14% (down 48 basis points year over year) while Amazon Prime Video stood at 5% (up 74 basis points).

Just 4% of Americans surveyed said Hulu has the “best original programming,” followed by Showtime Networks at 3%, Starz at 2% and Cinemax at 1%.

The big moat Netflix has built on this front is perhaps not surprising “given its budget,” Morgan Stanley analysts commented in the report, speculating that “Stranger Things” (with season 2 of the hit series launching last October) was likely the largest driver of the increase from last year.

Other recent popular Netflix originals, per Nielsen, include the reboot of “Lost in Space,” “Marvel’s The Defenders,” “Black Mirror” season 4, “House of Cards” season 5, and “Bright,” the fantasy cop movie starring Will Smith. The subscription VOD service also bowed on the much-anticipated season 2 of teen-suicide drama “13 Reasons Why” on May 18.

Netflix is projecting content spending of up to $8 billion in 2018. The company expects to have around 1,000 total originals on the streaming service worldwide by the end of 2018, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said at an investment conference this month. He also revealed that 85% of Netflix’s new content spending is going toward original productions.

Meanwhile, Netflix’s user penetration has improved both within and outside of the pay-TV ecosystem in the U.S., Morgan Stanley’s survey found.

About 51% of non-pay-TV consumer use Netflix (up 800 basis points year over), while Netflix also notched notable gains at Comcast — with 49% of Comcast customers using Netflix (up 750 basis points). Comcast launched the ability for Xfinity subs with X1 set-tops to access Netflix starting in late 2016, and earlier this year the two companies expanded their partnership with Comcast set to bundle Netflix with some pay-TV packages.

Interestingly, Netflix users continue to overindex on subscribing to other pay-TV premium networks, per the Morgan Stanley survey. About 53% of Netflix subscribers pay for at least one other premium service (like HBO, Showtime or Starz) versus 46% overall among pay-TV customers.

Morgan Stanley’s 2018 streaming-video survey polled 3,100 U.S. adults 18 and older in March 2018. The firm says the survey is nationally representative in terms of age, gender and region.

Pictured above: Millie Bobby Brown in Netflix’s “Stranger Things” season 2

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