Netflix originals suffer sharp viewership drop after initial surge

Netflix original series generate a lot of hype for the streaming service but after the initial surge in viewership they supply, subscribers lose interest quickly.

That’s according to new research from media analyst company MoffettNathanson, which dug into Nielsen’s U.S. streaming data to get a clearer picture of how Netflix’s massive content budget is reflected in engagement. The company found that Netflix had 40 original shows that reached Nielsen’s top 10 list during the third quarter, but that none of them accounted for more than 1.5% of time spent on Netflix in the U.S.

“This suggests that Netflix will need to continually refresh their original content pipeline to keep viewers engaged as they move from one original series to the next,” wrote Michael Nathanson in a research note.

Netflix’s original movies have been drawing even less viewership than original series, though MoffettNathanson said the company’s films could help provide incremental new subscribers in mature markets.

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It’s a different story for Netflix’s top acquired series, which according to the report include “Manifest,” “CoComelon” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” MoffettNathanson said that during the third quarter, four of Netflix’s top acquired series accounted for more than 1.5% of total U.S. viewing time and that they are better at maintaining stable viewership share over time.

“While acquired series appear to be relatively effective in driving engagement that endures over time, we believe Netflix will have fewer opportunities going forward to acquire these series,” wrote Nathanson. “With major media companies clawing back content for their own streaming services, we believe Netflix will need to rely even more on originals to provide compelling content for their subscribers.”

Netflix spent a whopping $17 billion on content in 2021 but will likely need to keep increasing its budget to keep pace with competitors like Disney, which plans to spend $33 billion next year, though that will be spread across its linear networks and streaming services and includes sports rights.