Ampere Analysis: Disney Leads in North America Scripted Content Race

Disney has taken a firm lead for scripted content in North America, having ordered more new scripted content by the end of September than it took in the whole of 2021, according to new research from Ampere Analysis.

Netflix has focused more on international with its scripted output falling by 15% in North America across the first three quarters, compared with Disney’s growth of 61%.

Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount have also reduced U.S. commissioning, with Warner reducing its scripted outlay from 44 to 28 new series orders in the first three quarters (down 30%), and Paramount reduced from 54 series orders to just 29 (down 46%).

Mid-size players have shown the greatest development in North America in 2022. One example in this group is Apple, which this year to date is the fourth largest commissioner of scripted content in North America with 32 new series ordered, making it one of the global top 10 commissioners of scripted for the first time.

Disney’s global scripted original output will vastly surpass Netflix this year, having just slightly edged ahead last year, according to Ampere. Back in 2020, it had been nearly 70 shows behind.

Both Netflix and Disney will far outstrip the competition in terms of scripted output. Disney’s scripted commissions this year are up 28% compared to the end of Q3 last year, to 181. Amazon has recorded the strongest growth among all platforms and surpassed the major studios’ commissioning with some 76 titles to date (up 33%). As a result, Warner has dropped out of the top three scripted content commissioners ranking. Its strategy shift post-merger with Discovery means it is likely to be overtaken by Paramount and Comcast, according to Ampere

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In Western Europe, traditionally led by public service broadcasters, France TV is currently the largest commissioner of new scripted content with 40 titles so far this year, roughly level with its output at this stage last year. Netflix has risen to match this, also with 40, four more titles than this time last year. The biggest reduction in scripted commissioning has come from the BBC, which has fallen to third having been the biggest commissioner in 2021, with a reduction in scripted output of 20 titles compared to this stage in 2021 (down 37%). A change of hands is occurring between the major studios active in Europe too. Warner Bros. Discovery has reduced its scripted output in Europe 29% to date this year (15 titles this year to 21 last), while Paramount has more than quadrupled its commissioning (27 commissions compared to six at this stage last year).

“With public service broadcasters increasingly pulling back due to budget constraints, subscription video on demand (SVOD) platforms and studios are ramping up scripted output,” Fred Black, research manager at Ampere Analysis, said in a statement. “At the top of the tree,  Netflix is pivoting its originals strategy even further toward international commissions as it searches for subscriber growth, allowing Disney to catapult its way to the top of the scripted content commissioning via its base in the U.S., leaning on that volume for global content superiority. If Disney can successfully position its global portfolio of streaming services and cable channels in a way that suits consumers, it can claim original content supremacy over incumbent market leader Netflix.”

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