Netflix’s tsunami of shows still commanded a majority of “audience demand” in 2020 thanks to a batch of high-profile originals led by Stranger Things, even as a string of high-profile competitors spearheaded by Disney+’s The Mandalorian grabbed attention in the United States and beyond, a report today from Parrot Analytics found.
Despite Netflix’s still dominant position, the world’s biggest streamer saw its dominant position erode notably, as those newcomers’s shows started nicking slices of viewer interest during a year when the pandemic both halted most series production and greatly increased viewership.
All told, audience demand for Netflix originals dropped to 53.5 percent of the total, the lowest level since Parrot started measuring. That was a drop of 6.3 percentage points, or 10..5 percent, from the previous year.
Parrot attributed the decline directly to shows from all the new streaming services. Many feature deep libraries and despite the pandemic, were able to launch at least some original series built on big franchises and brands such as Marvel, Star Trek, and HBO.
Those newcomers included Apple TV+, which grabbed 3.9 percent of audience demand with high-profile originals such as Golden Globe-winning series Ted Lasso and The Morning Show.
HBO Max and Disney+ each received 3.6 percent of demand, boosted by originals such as The Flight Attendant and The Mandalorian respectively. Programming from other services combined for 8.8 percent of demand, according to Parrot.
The Mandalorian was Disney’s undisputed home run for 2020, though it was a Launch Day title back in November 2019.
The Star Wars spinoff was the most popular single series from any service in nine of the 10 countries that Parrot surveyed, including the United States. Only Brazil had a different No. 1, Netflix’s durable science-fiction franchise Stranger Things, and even there, The Mandalorian was No. 2 in audience demand.
Perhaps more surprising than the global popularity of Disney’s bounty hunter saga was the No. 2 show in each market, and the deeper story it told about both the biggest streamer and the fastest growing one.
All told, according to Parrot, seven series in three languages were the second most popular original show in at least one of the 10 markets, including Narcos in Mexico, Dark in Germany, La Casa de Papel in Italy, Lucifer in France, and The Witcher in Australia and Canada.
Along with Stranger Things in the United States, Spain and the UK, those No. 2s are all from Netflix. Parrot suggested the difference between The Mandalorian and those seven Netflix shows reflects wildly different programming strategies between the two companies.
“Disney+ has been dependent more on a global blockbuster like The Mandalorian, while Netflix has developed a greater number of series that can be more targeted to specific market tastes,” said Parrot Insights Analyst Christopher Imhoff in the report.
Parrot uses a metric it calls “demand expressions” to track the audience interest in shows across the increasingly global, fragmented TV market online and off, including “video-streaming platforms, social-media platforms, photo-sharing platforms, blogging and micro-blogging platforms, fan and critic rating platforms, peer-to-peer protocols and file-sharing platforms.”
That approach sidesteps the challenges of getting streaming services to reveal direct viewership of their programs. Netflix only started revealing limited data (typically around viewership in the first 28 days after release) on its most popular shows for a quarter or the year.
Other services haven’t even done that much. Apple, for instance, has said little substantive about TV+ since launching 17 months ago, other than to note a few early awards, and the arrival of a much-anticipated adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s beloved Foundation novels.
Netflix most recently reported nearly 204 million subscribers worldwide, up 36.5 million or almost 22 percent for the year. Some 73 million of those accounts are in the United States.
Disney used its annual shareholder meeting earlier this month to mark Disney+ passing 100 million subscribers 16 months after launch.