How Popular Are Netflix Originals? Here's What We Know

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(Image credit: Image courtesy of Netflix)

Netflix has spent the last several years adding more and more originals to its library of streaming content, and there are now shows set in just about every genre imaginable. The streaming giant has invested a lot of money into the production of originals, and the flow of cash into original content isn't slated to slow any time soon. That leads to the question: how popular actually are Netflix's original series compared to its other offerings? The answer may surprise you.

In October 2018, 37% of Netflix's streams based out of the United States were of original content. While that might sound like a healthy number, we have to take into consideration the fact that it means 63% of the streams were of licensed content, according to video-measurement firm 7Park Data (via Variety). For all the money that Netflix has poured into originals, not even half of its streams are of those originals.

Perhaps it's better to say that not even half of Netflix's streams are originals yet. Despite the fact the licensed streams still vastly outnumber originals, original streams have increased a great deal in a relatively small span of time. In October 2017, 24% of streams were originals, and only 14% were originals in January 2017. If Netflix's content continues the trend of original stream growth, those investments could pay off in big ways eventually.

Of course, Netflix may have to rely on its originals much more in the future, as it may not be able to feature as wide a variety of licensed content in the not-too-distant future. The pay-TV-window deal between Netflix and Disney will be finished starting with releases in 2019, and that could be a very bad thing for the streaming giant. Disney content has apparently made for between 8% and 12% of Netflix's viewership from 2017 through October 2018.

That would be no small loss for Netflix, and unlike the recent situation with Friends, a new deal isn't very likely to be worked out for Disney content. Disney is launching its own streaming service, called Disney+, which is going to feature some very high-profile series from some of the most popular franchises in entertainment history.

Then there's the fact that Disney is acquiring 20th Century Fox, which could mean Netflix loses Fox content in the not-terribly-distant future as well. Assuming WarnerMedia continues to make deals to secure content, Netflix may even lose content to AT&T's upcoming service, especially if some deals are exclusive. Netflix lucked out with being able to keep Friends for another year, but that kind of deal may not be the norm. This first one certainly wasn't cheap.

None of this is to say that Netflix is in serious danger if it does begin to lose licensed content en masse. Even though 63% of the streams were of licensed shows, six of the top 10 most-viewed shows on Netflix in November 2018 (which was a record-breaking month) were Netflix originals. The top 10 is comprised of The Office (NBC), Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Netflix), Friends (Warner), Grey's Anatomy (ABC), House of Cards (Netflix), The Great British Baking Show (Netflix), Marvel's Daredevil (Netflix), Narcos: Mexico (Netflix), The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix), and Criminal Minds (CBS).

For some Netflix viewing options to finish out the year and then kick off the next, check out our 2018 Netflix premiere schedule as well as our 2019 Netflix premiere guide.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).