12 APR 2024

USA: Netflix’s licensing deal for HBO Originals is paying off

A research by Ampere Analysis revealed that, as these shows gain popularity on Netflix, users will be drawn to subscribe to Max to continue their stories.

12 APR 2024

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A recent study by Ampere Analysis showed that the arrival of HBO Original “Sex and the City” on Netflix demonstrates the continuing merits of Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) and Netflix’s co-exclusive licensing deal. As of April 1, all six seasons of “Sex and the City” have been available to stream for US Netflix subscribers. The show entered Netflix’s US Daily Top 10 TV Shows chart on April 2 at #7 and peaked at #3 the following day.

“Sex and the City” follows other hit shows included in the WBD-Netflix deal; all but one of the HBO Originals added to Netflix’s catalog in 2023 made an appearance on Netflix’s Daily Top 10 charts, with the only one that didn’t (“Six Feet Under”) still among the top 20 most popular US TV shows on Netflix in November, according to Ampere’s proprietary popularity metric. Indeed, since the deal started, all HBO Originals that premiered on Netflix saw spikes in popularity the month they landed on Netflix compared to the month prior — with most of them doubling. Typically, peaks in engagement of this scale are attributed with new season drops, but that is not the case for these Originals.

At the same time, these HBO Original co-exclusives rank high in critical acclaim among all TV shows on Netflix, even scoring higher compared to the average of Netflix’s own Top 500 Original TV shows. As Ampere’s proprietary critical rating metric aims to quantify the quality of a piece of content, the high performance displayed by HBO Originals cements the fact that they become assets to platforms they are added to.

From HBO’s perspective, these co-exclusives can act as a marketing mechanism. “Sex and the” City, in particular, comes to mind as its spin-off show “And Just Like That” is currently exclusive to Max. Should new audiences from Netflix be drawn to the characters or the story and want to know more, they would then have to subscribe to Max to continue the story. The deal also acts to promote the overall HBO brand – the quality of the content tasted on Netflix may entice consumers to seek out similarly high caliber shows on Max.

HBO’s most premium content would no doubt be well-received for upcoming licensing deals but are unlikely candidates at this stage as they are too valuable to the HBO brand and to Max. Among older concluded HBO Original shows that are only exclusive to Max in the US, the three with highest critical acclaim are “The Sopranos” (1999), “The Wire” (2002), and “Rome” (2005); and the three most popular as of February 2024 were “Game of Thrones” (2011), “The Sopranos” (1999), and “The Newsroom” (2012). With “House of the Dragon: Season 2” coming June 2024, “Game of Thrones” will surely see a resurgence in popularity. Warner Bros. Discovery could take advantage of that and retain exclusive rights to this title, making sure all eyes remain solely on its own platform.