Report: SVOD Scripted Original Content Is Often Not Original

Streaming video services frequently tout new programming to subscribers as original content when in fact the shows are often based on pre-existing intellectual property, according to a new report.

New data from Ampere Analysis found that “original” content based on adaptations, franchises and other forms of pre-existing intellectual property (IP) accounted for 64% of top SVOD services’ slate of new scripted programming in the United States in the first half of 2022.

When including unscripted reality-based content, 42% of new movies and first-run originals was based on pre-existing IP, while 28% of international content was based on pre-existing programming. Ampere said North American SVOD services have increased their share of IP-based commissions by seven percentage points over the past two years.

The report found that 53% Apple TV+ original programming through the first half of 2022 was based on pre-existing IP — tops among seven platforms that include Paramount+, Disney+, HBO Max, Discovery+, Prime Video and Netflix.

IP-based commissioning is generally the highest for studio-backed platforms such as Paramount+ and Disney+ as they turn to internal — and primarily U.S.-based — IP and movie franchises for their new original content. But this share is slowly decreasing as they gradually increase their international footprint. For Disney+, IP-based titles represented 35% of its global new originals in the first half of 2022, down from more than 60% in 2020.

Meanwhile, Netflix and Prime Video have the lowest share of IP-based projects. While leading by originals spend level and output, Netflix has the lowest share of IP-based titles at 32%, a share that is steadily on the rise in the U.S. market. The streaming giant is primarily drawing on book adaptations as the IP base, but also increasingly in a position to tap into some of its own titles and franchises (i.e., “Stranger Things”) to develop new content.

That said, one of Netflix’s most-popular programs is “Manifest,” the former NBC drama canceled in 2021 after three seasons. Netflix licensed the series about a time-traveling commercial airline flight and then commissioned an original fourth and final season.

Discovery+ has the lowest rate of IP-based titles (19%) due to its primarily reality TV-based slate. Overall, the share of IP-based titles is lower for unscripted content than scripted, although an increasing percentage of reality programming is drawing on pre-existing formats for remakes, spin-offs or reboots.

“[The] investment in original content has grown from a quarter of [SVOD’s] total content spend in 2019 to over half this year,” Cyrine Amor, analyst at Ampere Analysis, said in a statement. “Drawing on pre-existing IP capitalizes on established and successful content and is more likely to attract subscriber attention and positive reception than new brand content.”

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