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Licensed TV Classics Lack Clear Streaming Favorite: Survey

Licensed TV Classics Lack Clear Streaming
Variety Intelligence Platform

The next generation of streaming services are locked in a multibilllion-dollar bidding for buzzy licensed content from “Seinfeld” to “Grey’s Anatomy,” which begs the question: Which of all these classic shows is most in demand by viewers? 

It doesn’t appear that any one particular hit rerun show that’s been snatched up by a new streamer will cause consumers to flock to it en masse more than others.

That’s according to a January 2020 survey conducted by Trailer Park Group in partnership with Variety Intelligence Platform. 

When presented with a list of hit rerun shows, 39% of respondents said it would “absolutely” matter if “The Big Bang Theory” was included on a streaming service they were subscribing to, a percentage that was higher than that of any other show on the list.

But the four shows that measured up the closest to ”The Big Bang Theory” for that question were barely beaten. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said it would “absolutely” matter if “The Simpsons” was included on a streaming service they were going to subscribe to, while this figure was the same for “The Office” (38%). “Law & Order” (37%) and “Friends” (37%), appeared almost identical to the previously mentioned shows in terms of importance to SVOD subscribers.  

Meanwhile, four next most-popular shows on this question (“South Park,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Rick and Morty,” and “Parks & Recreation”) were within eight percentage points of “The Big Bang Theory,” which shouldn’t be completely discounted, but it implies that there may not be a be-all and end-all rerun show on the market, in terms of one that drives SVOD sign-ups. 

And when examining the results of this question from a slightly different angle, a similar takeaway is implied. Sixty-nine percent of consumers said it would “maybe” or “absolutely” matter to them if “Friends” was included on a streaming service they were subscribing to, a percentage that was higher than that for any other show on the list. But the second (“The Office,” 68%), third (“The Big Bang Theory,” 67%), fourth (“Law & Order,” 65%), and fifth place (“The Simpsons,” 64%) shows were within five percentage points. 

All this is not to say certain shows aren’t more popular than others, which is clearly evident in both questions referenced above. “The Office,” “Friends,” and “The Big Bang Theory” were among the most popular shows for both questions, while “Frasier” and “Community” ranked among the bottom two. Moreover, the percentage of people that said “Frasier” and “Community” “absolutely” mattered to them was nearly twenty percentage points lower than that of “The Office” and “The Big Bang Theory.” 

The demand for some of these shows could also increase as U.S. consumers grapple with getting the spread of coronavirus under control. Shows like “Friends” and “The Office” could see increased demand over the next several months not only because some consumers are spending more time at home, but also because many megahit sitcoms hold nostalgic value, which some consumers may be seeking in particular during these times of public health uncertainty. 

But the more important, and perhaps more counterintuitive, implication from the data is that with such a similar percentage of consumers indicating shows like “The Office,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Friends” being important to them and their decision to subscribe to streaming services there is no singular “jackpot” hit sitcom among sitcoms to ensure streamers emerge victoriously from the streaming wars.