A new survey of TV viewers indicates that Netflix has decisively stolen the crown from HBO when it comes to original programming content. For the first time ever, consumers voted Netflix as having better original content than its rival.
HBO, for many years, was synonymous with high-quality original programming, and was considered the holy grail of quality original content by most viewers. Iconic series such as The Sopranos, Sex and the City and Six Feet Under helped cement the pay channel as the number one destination for quality shows, and even changed the game for network and basic cable TV content, as programmers strove to meet similar standards to those HBO managed to achieve.
It appears as if the glory days of HBO are now officially over, and Netflix has taken the crown. A new survey by Morgan Stanley shows that TV viewers, by quite a decisive margin, now consider the programming available on the streaming video service to surpass that of HBO in quality. Twenty-nine percent of viewers surveyed felt Netflix was best in original programming as opposed to only 18 percent for HBO. Showtime, Hulu and Amazon all scored around four to five percent, while Starz was cited by two percent of respondents.
That's a huge reversal from just a year ago, when HBO still led the pack with 31 percent of those surveyed stating its programing was best, while Netflix took second with 23 percent. Over the last several years, Netflix has been extremely aggressive in expanding its original content offerings and has hit pay-dirt with buzz-worthy, Emmy-nominated series, such as Orange is the New Black and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
The leader of the Morgan Stanley analyst team, Benjamin Swinburne, noted: "This comes as we estimate that in 2016 Netflix will spend more on (original programming) than HBO for the first time."
The streaming service is actually expected to outspend HBO by quite a wide margin, with an estimated $2.5 billion slated for original content this year, as opposed to $1.8 billion for HBO, which has responded to the Netflix surge by recently announcing it plans to increase its original programming by 50 percent. Showtime, owned by CBS, spends approximately $700 million annually on its original content.
Netflix's proprietary programming has become an important feature in the perceived value of the service, which is soon raising rates on its HD plan for its long-term subscribers to the same $10 per month that newer subscribers pay. The survey revealed that 45 percent of Netflix subscribers consider the service's original content as a major reason they continue to subscribe, a significant increase from the 34 percent who felt similarly in last year's survey.