Netflix has taken peak TV to a new peak.
In a data point sure to fuel more quantity-versus-quality debate, Netflix broke its own record for number of original episodes released in a single quarter — with 1,026 in the third quarter of 2022, according to a tally by Wall Street firm MoffettNathanson.
That’s more than five times any other streaming rival: Amazon Prime Video and Hulu released 223 and 194 episodes, respectively, and Disney+ debuted 140 original episodes, per the report. HBO Max, now owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, released 114 episodes in the third quarter — significantly fewer episodes than usual and comprising the lightest slate for the service since Q2 2020, the second quarter after launch. WBD has been paring back HBO Max’s content slate in recent months as it looks to cut costs.
All told, Netflix premiered 159 original and exclusive shows in Q3, topping its previous high-water mark of 143 in Q4 2021 (which totaled nearly 900 episodes). Top TV titles Netflix premiered in the most recent quarter include Ryan Murphy’s “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” starring Evan Peters, which in its first three weeks has become the second most viewed English TV show on Netflix (after “Stranger Things 4”).
Other buzzy releases were Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” “Cobra Kai” Season 5, “Locke & Key” Season 3 and docu-series “How to Build a Sex Room.” In addition, Netflix dropped the final two episodes of “Stranger Things 4” on July 1 — a bid to pull fans of the show into its Q3 subscriber numbers.
Netflix’s big surge in Q3 came after a slowdown in output related to production delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And the bump comes as the U.S. streaming market has plateaued at 81% of U.S. households, according to survey data from HarrisX commissioned by MoffettNathanson.
“Streaming’s penetration of American households has hit maturity, as has nearly every individual service
except for the newest entrants of Peacock and Paramount+,” the firm wrote in its Q3 SVOD Tracker report. “Streaming services are no longer vying to add customers new to streaming, but rather to add (and keep) customers already within the streaming ecosystem.”
Netflix has taken a “something for everyone” strategy, as Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos has said — although that doesn’t mean everyone will be a fan of everything on the service. (Indeed, watching more than 1,000 episodes in a 90-day span would be virtually impossible.) According to the streamer, customers on average watch six different genres every month, ranging from drama to horror and from comedy to kids.
So Netflix, by releasing five times as much raw TV tonnage as its nearest competitors, is looking to cover the waterfront with stuff that appeals to a variety of tastes. But, of course, quantity isn’t everything, as the MoffettNathanson team pointed out: Amid its lower-than-usual volume of originals in Q3, HBO Max released “The House of the Dragon,” the “Game of Thrones” prequel series that was heavily marketed and has been a strong ratings draw. As of Sept. 20, “HOTD” Season 1 was averaging 29 million viewers per episode across all platforms.
Meanwhile, note that the episode counts don’t include licensed second-run shows. For Netflix in Q3, those included the CW’s “Riverdale” Season 6, “The Flash” Season 8, “In the Dark” Season 4, “Dynasty” Season 5 and “Roswell, New Mexico” Season 4. Also during the quarter, Netflix released Season 6 of the ever-popular “CoComelon” preschool series from Moonbug Entertainment.
Netflix’s Q3 lineup of original TV shows spanned scripted, unscripted/reality, kids and documentary formats, and includes a number of international productions. Some of Netflix’s non-English productions have been significant draws, including five Korean shows that debuted in Q3 like “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” “Alchemy of Souls,” “Little Women,” “Young Lady and Gentleman” and “Narco-Saints” — which have consistently been in Netflix’s Top 10 Non-English TV rankings for the last five weeks.