Amazon Prime Video Has the Deepest TV Streaming Library—But Not the Highest Quality One

Here's how streamers' catalogs stack up

Most major streamers' bulk is built off library titles. Pixabay

Key insight:

Buzzy original series may drive attention to streaming services, but the bulk of most major streamers’ programming catalogs are their libraries of licensed TV shows. And those licensed titles often account for the highest-quality content available on the service, according to data from streaming guide Reelgood.

Of the six major subscription streaming services—Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu and Netflix—four of them count licensed TV series as the vast majority of their show offerings. On Amazon Prime Video, which has a whopping 2,236 TV titles available for subscribers, only about 6% (134) are originals; on Hulu, which has 1,654 shows available for rent, 5% of them are originals.

Disney+ has 244 TV shows, of which 26 are originals, accounting for less than 11% of the total series library. (It’s worth noting that a huge focus for Disney+ was its extensive film library from the Disney vault.)

Even Netflix, which spent $15 billion on original content in 2019 and has 674 original TV shows, offers many more licensed television shows. Original series make up almost 35% of its total TV show library, which numbers 1,949 series.

The data shows just how important a streamer’s library is in building the best service it can. Sheer catalogue size is a major factor for consumers: More than 50% of U.S. consumers say that a “broad range of shows and movies” is an important factor when subscribing to a streaming service, according to a recent report from Deloitte.

Licensed shows also make up a major portion of quality programming on the service, according to Reelgood’s analysis, which considered a 6.5 or higher rating on the Internet Movie Database (which also tracks TV shows) with at least 300 votes as its metric for quality. Of the quality TV shows on Hulu, only 55 were originals compared to 895 licensed titles; a similar dynamic can be seen on Amazon Prime Video, where 92 original shows were rated highly, compared to 529 licensed titles. On Disney+, only nine original TV series ranked as high quality per IMDb, versus 86 licensed series.

Netflix was able to improve on that ratio, with 447 high-quality originals and 526 similarly ranked licensed titles.

Only HBO Max, the new streamer from AT&T-owned WarnerMedia, and Apple TV+, which didn’t have any licensed titles at the time of this survey (it recently acquired rights to Fraggle Rock), had more original series. About 44% of the shows available on Max are originals, primarily HBO TV series; of them, 140 originals were considered quality, compared to 97 licensed titles.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.