Netflix and Amazon Drive Bump in TV Show Market

Netflix and Amazon Drive Bump in TV Show Market

It has been nearly seven months since Hollywood resolved its strikes, but momentum still hasn’t taken hold in the entertainment industry. “Survive till ’25” has become an informal slogan among entertainment workers.

But the global market for ordering new TV shows is beginning to show some signs of life, and it’s been overwhelmingly driven by two players — Netflix and Amazon.

Netflix greenlit more scripted television projects through the first quarter of this year than in any quarter since 2022, according to Ampere Analysis, a research firm. Amazon had its most active quarter since Ampere started tracking market activity five years ago, the firm said.

Many of their competitors are still taking a more cautious approach. As a result, Netflix and Amazon collectively accounted for 53 percent of the scripted television series orders among the major studios through the first three months of the year, according to Ampere.

Most of the series orders have been made internationally. Netflix has been particularly active in Britain, Germany, Spain and South Korea, the research showed, while Amazon has been investing aggressively in India.

Netflix and Amazon have also purchased more projects in the United States compared with the tail end of 2023, but the increases have been more modest. Netflix had its most active quarter domestically since the first quarter of last year. Amazon had its biggest quarter since the spring of last year, according to the research.

“We were in this post-strike environment where things were still a little uncertain,” said Alice Thorpe, a research manager at Ampere. “Netflix and Amazon are really the first movers here.”

Representatives for Netflix and Amazon declined to comment.

The two giants with tech roots are in a stronger financial position than their competitors. Netflix earned more than $5 billion in profit last year, and its share price has skyrocketed over the past year. Amazon’s first-quarter earnings surpassed Wall Street’s expectations, and the company has had a ballooning share price over the past year.

Wall Street has been far more skeptical of their competition. For the last couple of years, the major media companies have been slashing costs to try to make their streaming services profitable.

Some of those companies, like Comcast and Paramount, also ordered more domestic projects compared with the second half of last year. Collectively, Amazon and Netflix accounted for about a third of the scripted television series orders in the United States among the major studios in the first three months of the year, according to Ampere.

Still, the volume is still down considerably from the highs of just a couple of years ago.

TV production boomed for much of the past decade, a period known as Peak TV. About 600 scripted shows premiered in the United States in 2022, more than three times the level of two decades earlier.

But in the middle of 2022, the major studios began pulling back investment after Wall Street started to frown on the invest-at-any-cost strategy to fuel their streaming services. Last year’s actor and writer strikes further fed the slowdown.

In a vivid illustration of the shift, the number of television series submitted for nominations for the Emmy Awards plummeted this year. In the drama category, there was a 34 percent decline in submissions from last year, and the comedy category was down 23 percent. Those declines are closer to 40 percent when compared with 2022. (Emmy nominations will be announced on July 17.)

It remains to be seen whether every studio will begin investing more aggressively again, particularly in the United States.

“It will be interesting if we see a little more movement from the major studios, which I think we will fairly shortly,” said Ms. Thorpe, the research analyst at Ampere. She said she did not expect the purchasing to “continue at such a low level.”

Union officials, for their part, are preaching continued patience for entertainment workers. Greg Iwinski, a television writer and a council member of the eastern branch of the Writers Guild of America, underscored that point at a conference in Austin, Texas, last month.

“It’s very easy to be scared, and go, ‘It’s all dried up, nothing’s happening, nothing will ever happen,’” he said. “There have to be television shows in 2026. There have to be television shows, movies have to exist. They have to exist unless every single one of these companies we negotiated with has just decided to stop existing.”

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