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Netflix Subscribers Say ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ ‘Stranger Things’ Are Their Favorite Shows on the Service

Asked to pick their favorite shows on Netflix, users surveyed put “Orange Is the New Black” at No. 1 and “Stranger Things” at No. 2, topping licensed shows like “The Office” and “Friends,” according to a new study.

That suggests that for Netflix, the coming departure of some popular old TV shows — not to mention a steady drop-off of Disney titles — isn’t going to derail the streaming leader. But it will mean Netflix is going to have to continue to spend more to produce and market original content as media conglomerates claw back their libraries.

Netflix still relies heavily on licensed content. That said, 15 of the top 20 shows Netflix subscribers cited as their “favorite” shows were Netflix originals, according to a MoffettNathanson-commissioned poll conducted by HarrisX of 11,135 U.S. subscription-video service users in May-June 2019. (The No. 3 entry on the survey was a catch-all category of “movies.”)

Also in the top 10 were “Friends” (rolling off Netflix for WarnerMedia’s HBO Max next year) and “The Office” (leaving for NBCUniversal’s service in 2021). For that kind of “comfort-food content,” according to MoffettNathanson principal analyst Michael Nathanson, the risk to Netflix “is a loss of easy-to-find and satisfying content that drives down time spent looking. In its place, Netflix will continue to spend more on original programming and marketing to promote other choices.” The analyst added that he continues to believe Netflix’s shares are overvalued (he rates the stock “neutral”), and that new competitive threats in the U.S. are “hardly reflected in their stock price.”

Rounding out the top 10 on the survey, the fourth most popular show streaming on Netflix was “Ozark,” followed by “Grace and Frankie”; “Black Mirror”; “Lucifer” (whose first three seasons aired on Fox before Netflix picked it up for a fourth season released this past May); “The Crown”; “The Office”; and “Friends.”

What’s important to note, however, is that the survey asked which shows were viewers’ favorites — that’s different than actual time spent viewing. On this front, licensed shows have dominated, in part due to the fact that there are far more episodes of, say, “Friends” (236) than, for example, “Stranger Things” (25 through the first three seasons). According to Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings, the No. 1 show on Netflix in 2018 in the U.S. in terms of minutes streamed was “The Office,” followed by “Friends,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds” and “Shameless.” The most-viewed Netflix original in 2018, at the No. 7 spot, was “Orange Is the New Black,” per Nielsen.

Of the 99 most-cited TV shows for Netflix on the MoffettNathanson/HarrisX survey, 51 were Netflix originals, 42 were licensed TV shows and six actually are not on Netflix, reflecting consumer confusion about where they’ve watched their favorites.The MoffettNathanson/HarrisX survey also found that Hulu’s No. 1 cited favorite show — unsurprisingly — was the breakout hit and award-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Of the service’s top 99 shows, 74 are shows acquired from cable and broadcast TV networks and only 17 are originals; meanwhile, eight of the shows cited by participants are are not currently on Hulu.

For Amazon Prime Video, the top five shows were each originals — “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.” “Bosch,” “The Man in the High Castle,” and “Sneaky Pete.” But of the top 99, only 19 were original titles, 44 were licensed and 36 that respondents cited (like “Game of Thrones”) weren’t even available on the service, something the analyst firm attributed to consumers confusing Prime Video with the rentals and purchases available through Amazon Video.

Other findings from the MoffettNathanson/HarrisX survey:

  • Password sharing: 14% of Netflix users tap into an account paid for by someone outside of their household, compared with 11% of Hulu users and 6% of Amazon Prime Video users.
  • Subscription tiers: Of Netflix subscribers, 32% have the Basic plan ($8.99 per month), 43% have the Standard package ($12.99) and 26% have the Premium ($15.99). Among Hulu customers, 72% are on the $5.99-per-month basic package with ads and 28% are on the $11.99 monthly no-ads plan (in line with Hulu’s claim that 70% of its overall viewers are on the ad-supported tier).
  • Usage: 77% of Netflix users 76% of Hulu customers watch either daily or a few times a week, while 60% of Amazon Prime Video users said the same. About 39% of both Netflix and Hulu subs say they stream something on the services every day, compared with 22% of Amazon Prime Video users.

Pictured above (l. to r.): Taryn Manning and Uzo Aduba from “Orange Is the New Black”; Millie Bobby Brown in “Stranger Things”

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