Exclusive content could be Warner Bros. Discovery’s biggest advantage in the streaming wars.
A network’s power has always stemmed from exclusive content, but the value of exclusivity has shifted how teams may approach content in a streaming-first era. Warner Bros. Discovery, the newly merged company that now oversees three streaming services — HBO Max, Discovery+ and CNN+ — will gain rewards for its focus on keeping programming exclusively to its own services.
This chart demonstrates the type of demand streaming platforms have based on the series available, according to Parrot Analytics‘ data, which takes into account consumer research data, streaming, downloads and social media, among other consumer engagement.
Unsurprisingly, Netflix excels in original series (marked in red) — the company is spending north of $17 billion on content, the vast majority of which is on original series. Non-exclusive licensed content (in blue), such as “Law and Order: SVU” on Hulu, is important show to have but the risk of audience cannibalization (audiences who may watch the show on another platform) is higher because it’s not exclusive to Hulu.
But exclusive licensed content (in green) may be key to HBO Max and Discovery+ — instead of licensing out the majority of their past series, they’re available exclusively on the platforms they operate. The green line also contains demand for HBO originals, as opposed to HBO Max originals.
Combined with increasing demand for original series, a combined HBO Max and Discovery+ offering would provide two important facets of a successful streaming catalog: knowing what people are watching and owning that content. With the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, there are now five companies that command 70% of all TV demand in the United States. Warner Bros. Discovery is the second largest, with a combined 18.3% of demand shares by series, and third for total platform demand shares across all streaming catalogs.
A combined HBO Max and Discovery+ offering, including CNN+, would overnight become a four-quadrant service, meaning that it appeals to all four core demographics: male and female, over and under 25. A complementary combination of reality, factual and unscripted programming (Discovery+) and prestigious dramas, family entertainment and celebrated comedy series (HBO Max), all exclusively available on one platform, creates an easy-to-understand value for customers.
A general entertainment subscription service builds upon emerging taste clusters and provides unique programming that’s tailored to those taste clusters. That creates a great experience that helps cultivate and support a viewer’s love for a collection of titles.
Expanding upon those titles and holding onto those titles exclusively instead of licensing them out for short-term return on investment can be the difference between a streaming service finding solid footing and one that’s struggling to find its place in a sea of heightened competition.
Warner Bros. Discovery is poised to be a prime offering for consumers, but building a product that someone really loves and is willing to pay handsomely for year after year is difficult. With its exclusive content and the ability to please a wide range of tastes, the company has the right ingredients to make it happen.