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Netflix and Hulu go in for comedies while Amazon sticks to drama: A look at the original content boom

Sci-fi is very popular among video services, too.

Standup comedian Ali Wong onstage
Standup comedian Ali Wong onstage
Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Once upon a time, network TV creators thought Netflix was naive to pay lots of money to license their old content. Fast-forward to the present and Netflix has become such an existential threat to old-school TV companies that they’ve stopped licensing their content to the streaming service and have copied its online subscription model.

As a result, Netflix started creating its own shows that it could stream without licensing in perpetuity. Others — including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and YouTube — have since followed suit.

Currently, Netflix is still far in the lead in producing the most shows. It has more than 250 TV shows in its Netflix Originals pipeline for the coming years — more than all of its existing originals combined — according to data from Ampere Analysis, which studies the industry.

It’s important to remember that this is the number of shows, not the amount of money they spent on shows (you can see that here), though both charts have a similar order. Also, the cost to produce shows varies by the show itself: HBO’s “Insecure” costs nowhere near as much as Netflix’s “The Crown,” for example.

Netflix and the others are leveraging data they have on what we watch to come up with new shows that will best fit its audience.

Here’s a peek into what they think those audiences might like.

Netflix is weighting its upcoming original content toward comedy, including a Paul Rudd scripted series, and sci-fi, including a “Dark Crystal” prequel.

Amazon has geared its nearly 100 new shows mostly toward drama (“The Romanoffs”) and sci-fi, including a “Lord of the Rings” prequel series.

YouTube Premium’s original TV shows skew heavily toward comedy.

A third of Hulu’s approximately 50 upcoming shows are comedies, including an animated series called “Solar Opposites” from the makers of “Rick and Morty.”

Facebook Watch, whose parent company has recently come under scrutiny for being a purveyor of bias and fake news, is leaning heavily toward news and current-affairs TV shows, with eight of its 27 new shows (30 percent) in that category. That’s not surprising considering about half of Americans get news from Facebook. Facebook isn’t considered in the same league as other streaming services — at least right now. Facebook’s efforts are still relatively new and, unlike Netflix, HBO or Hulu, the company hasn’t ponied up to create the kind of high-quality original content that gets people to pay a regular subscription.

Comedy and Crime & Thrillers represent the most common genres at Apple, which has 23 upcoming shows on its slate, including a Kristen Wiig series and a “Time Bandits” series.

And for some old media turned new media: HBO. Its slate consists largely of dramas, including an adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s book “My Brilliant Friend.”

Ampere’s data is for announced U.S. airing TV shows and includes pilots as well as content that hasn’t been produced yet (some may end up not being produced). It was current at the beginning of September.

This article originally appeared on

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