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Entertainment Companies Spend $121 Billion on Original Content in 2019

Five companies accounted for 73% of content spend

U.S. media and entertainment companies spent over $120 billion on original content, including movies and TV shows, in 2019, per an analysis conducted by Variety Intelligence Platform. 

It’s a whopping sum fueled by the increasing investment of players including AT&T’s HBO, which expanded its production of original content by 50%, to 150 hours. To maintain its market share, Netflix increased their content spend by $3 billion as the streamer increased its content volume by over 50% versus 2018.

Of the total amount spent on content, five mega companies–AT&T, ViacomCBS, Netflix, Comcast and Disney–accounted for approximately $87.4 billion, or 72.5% of the total spend. Disney itself was the greatest content spender, accounting for nearly one quarter of the entire amount, splashing out $27.8b across their studios, networks and SVOD services.

When looking at the spend figures by company, a number of competitive tiers emerge. Head and shoulders above everyone is Disney. Next come the other members of the big five. The third tier, the serious but restrained spenders, sees Discovery, Fox, Apple and Amazon accounting for 19% of original content spending. The final six companies making up the bottom tier, including Google, Facebook and Sony Pictures, contributed 8.5% to total spend.

One thing to consider: these figures are independent of the cost of licensing content, which in 2019 saw a bidding war for hit shows to anchor streaming services.

With three more major SVOD services launching in the first half of 2020 in Quibi, Peacock and HBO Max, it would be hard to imagine 2020’s total original content spend being less than the $121b spent last year.

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