Netflix flooded its U.S. streaming service with an all-time high tonnage of original TV shows and movies in the third quarter of 2018 – a positive signal that the No. 1 subscription-video service will hit its customer-acquisition targets, according to a new report from Wall Street firm Cowen & Co.
The company bowed nearly 676 hours of originals for the quarter ended Sept. 30, which is equivalent to about 28 full days. That’s more than double the amount of Netflix originals launched in Q3 2017 (289 hours) and up 50% from 452 hours in Q2 2018, Cowen & Co. estimated. The relative quality of that glut of new content is debatable, but Netflix’s track record shows that greater amounts of exclusive programming leads to higher sub growth and lower churn.
In the most recent quarter, the company released new seasons of “Orange Is the New Black,” “Marvel’s Iron Fist” and “Bojack Horseman,” along with controversial drama “Insatiable” and Cary Fukunaga-directed psychological thriller “Maniac,” starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill.
Other shows that debuted in the period included new seasons of Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” “Chef’s Table” and “Anne With an E,” as well as “Ultraviolet,” “Undercover Law,” “Take My Brother Away,” “Sacred Games,” “Sugar Rush,” “Cocaine Coast,” “On Children,” “The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants,” stand-up specials “Jim Jefferies: This is Me Now” and “Iliza Shlesinger: Elder Millennial.”
Netflix told investors it expects to add 650,000 net new U.S. streaming subs and 4.35 million internationally for Q3. Netflix fell well short of forecasts for sub growth in Q2; the company is scheduled to report third-quarter 2018 earnings on Oct. 16 after market close.
Netflix’s subscriber forecast is achievable given its “increasingly robust original content slate,” as reflected by the record-high release cycle in the quarter, along with continued strength overseas driven by local originals and set-top box integrations, plus the company’s boost in originals marketing, wrote the Cowen & Co. analyst team, led by John Blackledge.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, speaking at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in L.A. Tuesday, disputed the idea that the streamer’s high programming output leaves some of its originals “lost” in the mix. “The notion that things get ‘lost’ on Netflix is silly. Things get found on Netflix,” because of its content-recommendation engine, Sarandos said, per a CNN report. “People say, ‘You have so much to watch.’ Yeah, but it’s not all for you.”
Netflix is expected to reach $13 billion in gross content spending in 2018, and execs have said the company is on pace to have launched a total of 700 original series by the end of 2018. It’s made big real-estate moves to accommodate even more productions, with plans to establish a studio hub in Albuquerque, N.M., and acquiring a lease on a new 13-story building in Hollywood that’s set to open in 2020.
Meanwhile, Netflix continues to hold a significant lead as the No. 1 preferred platform for watching video on TVs — beating broadcast and cable TV, as well as YouTube and other streaming services. On Cowen & Co.’s August survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers, 27.6% picked Netflix as the place they used “most often” to watch video content on TVs, followed by basic cable (20.2%), broadcast (17.5%), YouTube (11.6%), Hulu (5.6%), Amazon Prime Video (5%) and premium cable (4.6%). That’s in line with survey results Cowen & Co. published in July.
Pictured above: “Orange Is the New Black” season 6