Does Netflix Really Produce the Best Original Shows? Analysis Says No.

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With successes like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Aziz Ansari’s latest Master of None, it probably comes as no surprise that Netflix is planning to spend $5 billion on content next year.

Now, that number isn’t just for original content. It also includes movie and traditional licensing costs. But if you look at 2013, when Netflix spent $2 billion on content, there was still plenty of original content released.

Expect more in the coming year.

BGR reported on Netflix’s big spend earlier this month. And while the high dollar amount is newsworthy enough, there was a line at the end of the report that caught our attention:

“Netflix may have a few duds in the rotation, but by and large, they have a higher batting average when it comes to delivering well-received shows than any other content producer on the planet.”

What does that exactly mean? Are all Netflix originals, on average, better than HBO, Showtime, FX, or Amazon Prime originals? Is there even a metric for that?

Does Netflix really have a better batting average?

Earlier this year, FX President John Landgraf took exception to this notion. In a radio interview, he said, “Netflix has made 14 shows. Take any 14 shows we’ve made; they’re better. Any 14 shows, on average, our shows are better.”

So, we decided it was time to find out the truth. Is Netflix producing the best original shows on average? Or are they getting bested by other content producers?

 

Our Methodology

Of course, to determine something so subjective, you need some kind of constant to measure a show’s success. Even if there were hard numbers out there showing how many times a show has been streamed or viewed, it still wouldn’t speak to a particular show being “well-received.”

But there are some loyal critic sites that have a solid following. Ratings from those sites might be the fairest way to go.

We averaged the rating of all original shows from nine pay TV channels and services. We used ratings from Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. Metacritic tends to be more critical, while Rotten Tomatoes is a little bit more favorable. Both ratings are on a 1-100 scale.

If a show had multiple seasons, Metacritic broke it into separate ratings. We averaged all seasons for an overall score.

We then averaged all of the shows for that channel or service to get an overall score. If a rating wasn’t available from one of the sites, we would take the rating or average rating from just the one available sites.

Things were going quite well with this methodology until we got to Hulu originals. When it comes to the number popular originals, Hulu isn’t lacking against its competitors at Netflix and HBO. What it is lacking is ratings on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. Shows like Quick Draw and Doozers didn’t have a rating on either of the sites. That could mean there aren’t enough Hulu subscribers out there to watch and review the show. It also likely skewed Hulu’s overall rating higher. As a result, we’ll show you the available numbers, but won’t include it in our rankings list.

This list includes shows produced by each channel or provider, even if they are no longer on the air. Shows before 2000 (with the exception of The Sopranos) weren’t included. Shows without rating on either of the sites used for this survey also weren’t included.

 

The Results

average ratings of original series

Here’s our list, in order, for channels and services with the best original programming:

1. HBO: 82.3

2. Showtime: 75.1

3. FX: 74

4. Netflix: 73.6

5. AMC: 73.5

6. Amazon: 71.8

7. Starz: 71.6

8. USA Network: 65.2

*  Hulu scored 75.8, but less than half of its original shows had ratings on Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes.

So, yes, while Netflix does have some highly rated shows, the streamer doesn’t necessarily have a higher batting average in delivering original content. In fact there are at least three other content providers on this planet, based on user critiques, that put out better programming.

A few notes:

• The highest rated show on HBO that’s currently on the air is Game of Thrones, at 92. It’s rated behind The Sopranos and and The Wire, shows that ended in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Master of None, on Netflix, received a 100 rating on Rotten Tomatoes (it was recently released), resulting in an overall score of 96, the highest score for the streaming service.

Grace and Frankie (56), Marco Polo (36) and Between (34) were the lowest rated shows on Netflix, bringing its average rating down.

• Starz has surprisingly popular — and scary — shows that don’t receive as much press as HBO or Showtime programming.

• As Netflix creates more original programming, it may not want to get too out of hand. Having one or two shows, but 10 to 15 lousy ones may not bode well for the streaming provider.

• HBO, the ratings winner, has very few shows in their first or second season, which could be a concern looking down the road as some of their most popular shows are now in their 4th, 5th or 6th season.

• FX President John Landgraf has to feel validated that his network’s originals have a higher average rating than Netflix’s.

 

Total Rankings

NETFLIX Metacritic Rotten Tomatoes Average
House of Cards 77 83 80
Orange is the New Black 83 95 89
Marco Polo 48 24 36
Bloodline 75 80 77
Marvel’s Daredevil 75 98 86
Between 47 22 34
Sense8 63 69 66
Club de Cuervos N/A 80 80
Narcos 77 78 77
BoJack Horseman 74 78 76
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 78 94 86
Grace and Frankie 58 55 56
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp 74 92 83
Master of None 92 100 96
W/ Bob and David 76 88 82
AVERAGE RATING 73.6
HULU
The Awesomes 60 63 61
The Wrong Mans 79 90 84
Deadbeat N/A 75 75
The Hotwives 67 78 72
Difficult People 76 85 80
Casual 77 90 83
Quick Draw N/A N/A
Behind the Mask N/A N/A
Mother Up! N/A N/A
Doozers N/A N/A
What Lives Inside N/A N/A
Resident Advisors N/A N/A
AVERAGE RATING 75.8
AMAZON
Bosch 71 72 71
Hand of God 44 30 37
Alpha House 68 72 70
Mozart in the Jungle 73 95 84
Transparent 91 98 94
Red Oaks 70 81 75
AVERAGE RATING 71.8
HBO
Game of Thrones 91 94 92
True Detective 72 79 75
The Leftovers 64 69 66
The Comeback 80 90 85
Girls 81 89 85
Veep 81 90 85
Getting On 85 97 91
Silicon Valley 79 93 86
Togetherness 79 93 86
Ballers 65 80 72
Treme 82 98 90
True Blood 68 70 69
Boardwalk Empire 81 90 85
Big Love 75 85 80
Rome 69 N/A 69
Deadwood 86 N/A 86
The Wire 92 96 94
The Sopranos 94 97 95
AVERAGE RATING 82.3
Showtime
Homeland 83 90 86
Ray Donovan 73 77 75
Masters of Sex 82 87 84
Penny Dreadful 73 89 81
The Affair 81 95 88
Episodes 74 72 73
Shameless 71 94 82
House of Lies 63 N/A 63
Dexter 76 79 77
Meadowlands 61 N/A 61
Brotherhood 75 N/A 75
Sleeper Cell 69 N/A 69
The L Word 63 N/A 63
AVERAGE RATING 75.1
AMC
The Walking Dead 79 90 84
Hell on Wheels 66 N/A 66
TURN: Washington’s Spies 64 66 65
Halt and Catch Fire 71 86 78
Better Call Saul 78 100 89
Humans 73 88 80
Fear the Walking Dead 66 76 71
Into the Badlands 55 51 53
Mad Men 86 94 90
Breaking Bad 88 95 91
Rubicon 69 69 69
The Killing 68 70 69
Low Winter Sun 60 43 51
AVERAGE RATING 73.5
FX
American Horror Story 65 73 69
The Americans 86 95 90
Fargo 90 99 94
Tyrant 59 63 61
The Strain 69 83 76
The Bastard Executioner 55 49 52
Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll 60 59 59
Nip/Tuck 73 79 76
Resuce Me 84 89 86
The Riches 68 N/A 68
Damages 78 96 87
Sons of Anarchy 76 89 82
Justified 89 97 93
Terriers 75 94 84
Lights Out 79 90 84
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia 75 96 85
The League 57 75 66
Wilfred 62 75 68
You’re the Worst 73 88 80
Legit 75 96 85
Archer 79 97 88
Unsupervised 46 21 33
Chozen 44 29 36
AVERAGE RATING 74
Starz
Da Vinci’s Demons 65 81 73
Black Sails 58 82 70
Power 66 72 69
Outlander 73 91 82
Survivor’s Remorse 83 96 89
The Missing 85 96 90
Blunt Talk 56 53 54
Ash vs. Evil Dead 75 98 86
Flesh and Bone 52 60 56
Boss 76 84 80
Camelot 58 44 51
Magic City 60 56 58
The White Queen 70 78 74
AVERAGE RATING 71.6
USA Network
Royal Pains 61 72 66
Suits 69 76 72
Satisfaction 63 82 72
Mr. Robot 79 98 88
Playing House 65 88 76
Donny! 32 25 28
Burn Notice 72 80 76
Common Law 54 50 52
Complications 55 59 57
Graceland 58 69 63
Fairly Legal 55 57 56
White Collar 75 N/A 75
Psych 59 N/A 59
Necessary Roughness 62 67 64
Monk 75 N/A 75
AVERAGE RATING 65.2

Have a better way to find out which channel or provider has the best batting average when it comes to original content? Let us know in the comments below.

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Andrew Dodson

Andrew Dodson

Andrew Dodson is a journalist from Michigan who writes for MLive.com, the state's top online news source. He previously worked as the technology editor for TVNewsCheck.com, a trade publication that covers the broadcasting industry, where he frequently wrote about cord cutting and taking advantage of over-the-air television. He's married to his wife Erin and is a proud Mini Cooper owner.
Andrew Dodson