Netflix and HBO Lead the SVOD Content Wars for Critically Acclaimed TV Shows

Netflix and HBO are “significantly outperforming” their rival subscription video on-demand (SVOD) platforms in the US when it comes to producing critically acclaimed original TV shows, according to new research from Ampere Analysis. The two services’ top 25 most critically acclaimed shows received notably higher average ratings than those produced on Amazon, Hulu and Showtime, though in Netflix’s case this seems have come at the cost of a somewhat spray-and-pray approach.

Ampere drew data from a number of ratings websites and film/TV databases to calculate an average critical rating score for each service’s original TV shows. On average, HBO and Netflix’s top 25 highest rated series scored around 87 out of 100. Amazon meanwhile came in at around 82, Showtime at 81, and Hulu at 78. Popular and highly rated shows like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos and The Wire on HBO, and Stranger Things, Narcos and Black Mirror on Netflix helped boost the two services above their competitors, according to Ampere.


The findings are significant due to the impact original content can have in helping drive new subscriptions. Harvard research last year found that if a streaming service wants to attract subscribers, offering content from TV channels is not a sufficient strategy, and that offering original content can be one important way to differentiate from competitors.

However in Netflix’s case, this success has come at something of a cost. The company has 395 original TV shows on its US service, far ahead of the next closest with HBO Go at 104. And the quality across the vast catalogue of shows isn’t consistent – when measuring the average rating across all original TV shows, Netflix falls from the joint highest rated to the lowest.

“Netflix is by far the biggest commissioner of original TV shows with almost 400 on the service now and 287 in the pipeline,” said Ampere analyst Lottie Towler. “This focus on volume has, perhaps inevitably, created a number of big hits alongside some misses – lowering the overall Critical Rating for its complete original catalogue.”

And the importance of acquired content should be noted too. For Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, their top 25 acquired shows are on average rated higher than their top 25 original shows. And as the Harvard study found, while quality original content can be important for drawing in new subscribers, quality acquired content is important for retaining them.

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