Streaming TV/Movie Library Shows: The Mothership Of The Business

Can't get enough of old TV shows? Yes. That is what Nielsen is telling us. Maybe we need a new word for those series.

Among the top ten of all streaming TV/movie content are TV shows that have aired on linear TV networks -- “Suits,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Bluey,” “Gilmore Girls” and “NCIS.”

Farther down the list we have “Friends,” “The Simpsons,” “Shameless” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

Still, we know that new TV and movie content are the key drivers steering these streaming ships to higher revenue -- and hopefully, profitability. 

But initially for many new streaming competitors -- especially those that wanted to compete -- it was all about getting key mothership TV series back from other platforms -- and primarily Netflix.



Back when then WarnerMedia had yet to launch HBO Max, it wanted its long-time hit “Friends” returned -- a Warner Bros.-produced show it licensed to Netflix. For NBCUniversal's Peacock, it pursued taking back “The Office” from Netflix.

Going back more than two decades -- the mid-1980s through the early 1990s -- U.S. syndication, more than U.S. cable at that time -- was a key revenue driver for Hollywood studios, especially for their "off-network" shows. Yes -- reruns.

These were network-aired TV shows, appearing on local TV stations after their initial network run of four years or so. TV stations, in turn, could sell high-priced local TV ad inventory in those series.

That helped give TV stations the base business to then spur more locally produced content, as well as expanding daily TV newscasts -- or to spend money for new first-run shows from the major Hollywood studios or other entrepreneurs. 

It seems like the same mode has been applied roughly to the streaming business. Start with high-profile TV shows that everyone knows and wants to see. Get those customers to pay regular monthly subscriptions fees.

In terms of streaming -- for the most recent reporting week,  October 23 through October 29 --  Nielsen says “Suits” (on Netflix) took in 997 million minutes viewed by viewers two years and older -- the best result of all U.S. “acquired” shows on streaming platforms. 

Netflix has six of the top ten acquired shows, either owned or shared with another streamer. Max and Disney+ each have two. Paramount+ and Peacock have one each.

So called "rerun" programming has now morphed into content of a different, broader description: Content that some consumers just have not seen yet -- especially as the marketplace continues to be flooded with new TV shows. 

Do we need a new identifying word for such shows?


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