MoffettNathanson, HarrisX expect long-tail content to prop up Netflix, even without ‘Friends’

Netflix remote control image
Netflix hedges its bets with massive amounts of long-tail content. (Pixabay)

According to a new report from HarrisX and MoffettNathanson, Netflix won’t be hurt too badly by the loss of "Friends" and "The Office." 

HarrisX, a market research and consulting company that specializes in online polling and data analytics, released the first of its new monthly Streaming Media Panel to track adoption of direct-to-consumer streaming content services. For its first quarterly findings and for the remainder of 2019, HarrisX is partnering with independent research firm MoffettNathanson. The companies based their inaugural report on data gathered from a monthly survey of about 8,500 household decision-makers aged 18+.

Findings from the initial report show the dominance of Netflix among U.S. consumers, the ascension of Hulu over past quarters, and the potential loss of momentum of Amazon Prime Video. It also shows that while "Friends" and "The Office" remain top shows among U.S. video-on-demand consumers, Netflix has aggressively invested in original, destination content to grow user engagement.

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Netflix reports its quarterly earnings this afternoon. But in advance, HarrisX and MoffettNathanson weigh in on the debate as to whether Netflix will be seriously harmed by the impending loss of "Friends" and "The Office." “Much of the reporting argues that Netflix will emerge unscathed from these moves, given the massive amount of investment spending on originals that has been occurring sine 2015,” states the report. “We are generally in agreement with that, given our non-zero-sum view of SVOD – that a loss of acquired content will not impact Netflix’s subscriber growth.”

Recently, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said a big part of the company’s business model is to provide niche content to draw in a wide array of subscribers. Netflix is offering about 700 TV series and 80 movies in 2019. And it’s constantly on the hunt for new series content. The company is interested in major blockbusters, as well as programs that satisfy smaller audiences.

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Sarandos said, “We have a lot of programming, but it’s not all for you. We have to have something you feel like you can’t live without. My wife and I can never agree on what to watch.”

The HarrisX/MoffettNathanson report said, “As we have seen in prior surveys, SVOD services generate value by offering a long-tail of programming options. We meant it as a compliment when we described Netflix as ‘Blockbuster Video in the Cloud.’ Unlimited shelf space creates unlimited options. When asked about respondents’ favorite shows to watch on Netflix, we see that few titles generate common support.”

According to its survey, the current most popular shows on Netflix are "Orange is the New Black" (about 7% of respondents) and "Stranger Things" (about 6% of respondents.) These programs are followed by a slew of shows that each garner about 2% of respondents’ vote for their favorite shows. "Friends" and "The Office" are included in those 2% shows.

HarrisX and MoffettNathanson will work throughout 2019 to create recurring quarterly analysis that tracks the marketplace evolution of new and existing SVOD, TVOD, AVOD and vMVPD players. "We're excited to expand our in-home and wireless consumer trackers to trace the adoption of new on-demand and video streaming services," said Dritan Nesho, CEO of HarrisX, in a prepared statement.