Who Produces the Best Original Shows? It’s Not Netflix

hbo vs netflix

It was just about a year ago when a specific line from a BGR report on Netflix’s content spending caught my 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.”

In other words, original shows by Netflix are “by and large” better than other streaming companies and cable networks. Better than HBO. Better than Amazon Prime. Better than Hulu.

Of course, determining what’s good and what’s not good is no easy task. It’s entirely subjective and comes down to a viewer’s personal tastes.

But a year ago, I gave it a go, anyway, using a specific methodology. Which content provider really produces the best original content?

Last year, It turned out Netflix content fell in the middle of the pack. HBO came out on top, followed by Showtime, FX and then Netflix. USA Network was last, behind Starz, Amazon, and AMC.

But a lot can change in a year. Netflix is now spending $6 billion annually on original content production, and other streaming services like Amazon Prime and Hulu are stepping up their commitment to their own original content as well. Not to mention pay TV channels like HBO, FX, USA, and Starz have launched several new series over the last year.

So we wondered, how do the original series of these services and networks matchup a year later?

Before we get to the 2016 results, here’s how the ratings are determined:

Methodology

Using ratings from Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, two critic sites that rate television shows on a 1-100 scale, we averaged the ratings of all active, original shows from the nine pay TV channels and services. For the most part, Metacritic tends to be more critical, while Rotten Tomatoes is more favorable.

Metacritic breaks its ratings down by seasons. So, if a show had multiple seasons, we averaged ratings for all seasons for an overall score.

Next, we took the average of the Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic score for each show. We then averaged all of the shows for that channel or service for the overall score. If a rating wasn’t available from one of the sites, we took the rating or average from just the available site. This year, that didn’t turn out to be a problem, meaning more people have rated shows on both sites in the past year.

For averages that didn’t work out to a whole number, we rounded up at .5 and rounded down for anything below .5.

Hulu continued to be a problem for us in this methodology. For some reason, Hulu is lacking reviews on both sites for its original shows. Like the 2015 ratings, less than half of Hulu’s shows didn’t have a rating from either critic site. As a result, Hulu’s score could be skewed high or low. We included it in our results, but take it with a grain of salt.

The Results

hbo vs netflix

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

1. FX: 85

2. HBO: 81

3. Starz: 79

4. Netflix: 77

5. Hulu: 77*

6. AMC: 76

7. Showtime: 75

8. Amazon: 71

9. USA: 69

* Hulu scored 77, but this number may not be entirely accurate. About half of the company’s original shows don’t have ratings on Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic.

Highlights:

Netflix wins the volume game. The streamer has 22 active original shows.

• Speaking of volume, it may not bode well for Netflix. As you’ll see in the chart below, the networks that ranked higher had fewer shows. Perhaps fewer shows means higher quality?

• For the second straight year, Netflix’s top rated show was Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. And yes, there’s a second season coming, you just need to be patient.

• HBO dropped a spot this year. That’s likely due to us not including shows that are no longer being made. Hits like The Sopranos carried HBO last year.

• FX has some surprisingly good shows. The People vs O.J. Simpson story on American Crime Story helped its overall rating immensely, in addition to Fargo and the newly released Atlanta.

• These ratings seems to line up closely with the recent Golden Globes nominations, where Netflix hits it lowest tally to date with just 5 nominations and trailed both HBO (14) and FX (9).

Total Rankings:

Netflix

Metacritic Rotten Tomato Average
House of Cards

77

84

81

Hemlock Grove

41

38

40

Orange is the New Black

84

96

90

Marco Polo

48

24

36

Bloodline

68

63

66

Sense8

63

67

65

Stranger Things

76

95

86

The Get Down

69

73

71

The Crown

81

91

86

Marvel’s Daredevil

72

86

79

Marvel’s Jessica Jones

81

93

87

Marvel’s Luke Cage

79

96

88

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

80

97

89

Grace and Frankie

60

72

66

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

74

92

83

Master of None

91

100

96

W/ Bob & David

76

88

82

Love

72

87

80

The Characters N/A N/A N/A
Trailer Park Boys N/A N/A N/A
BoJack Horseman

79

85

82

F is for Family

75

82

79

Average

77

Title Metacritic Rotten Tomato Average

Hulu

Up to Speed No rating No rating
Quick Draw No rating No rating
The Awesomes

60

74

67

Mother Up! No rating No rating
The Wrong Mans

79

90

85

Deadbeat No rating No rating
The Doozers No rating No rating
The Hotwives

67

78

73

Resident Advisors No rating No rating
Difficult People

80

92

86

Casual

83

88

86

The Confession No rating No rating
East Los High No rating No rating
11.22.63

69

79

74

The Path

70

81

76

Crow’s Blood No rating No rating
Freakish No rating No rating
Chance

64

78

71

Average

77

Amazon Prime

Metacritic Rotten Tomato Average
Bosch

74

86

80

Hand of God

44

30

37

The Man in the High Castle

77

95

86

Mad Dogs

64

64

64

The Collection No rating No rating
Goliath

65

78

72

Good Girls Revolt

65

71

68

Betas

69

80

75

Alpha House

68

72

70

Mozart in the Jungle

72

88

80

Transparent

92

98

95

Red Oaks

70

79

75

One Mississippi

77

93

85

Crisis in Six Scenes

44

18

31

Average

71

HBO

Metacritic Rotten Tomato Average
Game of Thrones

87

94

91

The Leftovers

73

87

80

True Detective

74

75

75

Westworld

74

89

82

Curb Your Enthusiasm

87

98

93

Girls

79

89

84

Veep

82

90

86

Silicon Valley

87

98

93

Ballers

64

68

66

Tracey Ullman’s Show

70

100

85

Vice Principals

56

63

60

Divorce

60

63

62

Insecure

84

100

92

Average

81

Showtime

Metacritic Rotten Tomato Average
Homeland

83

90

87

Ray Donovan

73

77

75

Masters of Sex

79

83

81

The Affair

82

90

86

Billions

69

73

71

Shameless

71

92

82

Episodes

74

72

73

Dice

56

33

45

Average

75

Starz

Metacritic Rotten Tomato Average
Black Sails

58

82

70

Power

66

72

69

Outlander

79

94

87

The Missing

85

97

91

The Girlfriend Experience

78

82

80

Survivor’s Remorse

83

97

90

Blunt Talk

56

53

55

Ash vs. Evil Dead

79

99

89

Average

79

FX

Metacritic Rotten Tomato Average
American Horror Story

67

77

72

The Americans

88

96

92

Fargo

91

98

95

The Strain

67

72

70

American Crime Story

90

97

94

Louie

87

93

90

Baskets

68

70

69

Atlanta

90

100

95

Better Things

79

94

87

Average

85

USA

Metacritic Rotten Tomato Average
Suits

69

86

76

Mr. Robot

80

96

88

Colony

69

79

74

Queen of the South

59

69

64

Falling Water

50

28

39

Eyewitness

58

82

70

Paying House No rating No rating
First Impressions No rating No rating
Average

69

AMC

Metacritic Rotten Tomato Average
The Walking Dead

80

84

82

TURN: Washington’s Spies

65

66

66

Halt and Catch Fire

75

89

82

Better Call Saul

82

97

90

Humans

73

88

81

Fear the Walking Dead

60

74

67

Into the Badlands

54

53

54

Preacher

76

89

83

Average

76

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