Facing the Writers’ Strike, Streamers Can Lean More on Unscripted Shows | Charts

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As the Writers Guild of America and the studios continue their ongoing dispute into its third week, the scale of the strike is becoming unprecedented. But because the strike primarily affects scripted content, streamers may rely more on unscripted shows like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “The Voice” to fill the gap.

Although most streaming services have a stockpile of scripted content to be released throughout these dry months, the longer the strike continues, the more likely it becomes that the delivery of new scripted content will slow and eventually run out down the line. The lack of new scripted content could increase the consumption of unscripted shows as viewers search for alternatives to their usual binge-watching selections. However, the need for a diverse and abundant supply of unscripted content to substitute the scripted shows creates a significant logistical challenge.

Looking back at the last strike in 2007-2008, there was an observable increase in viewership of unscripted content during the period of halted content production. This historical precedent prompts us to consider which streaming services are best prepared for an extended shutdown. An analysis of the service’s content catalogs and their reliance on scripted versus unscripted content offers some insight into their preparedness

Demand and supply for unscripted shows, Q1 2023, U.S. (Parrot Analytics)
Demand and supply for unscripted shows, Q1 2023, U.S. (Parrot Analytics)

As anticipated, Discovery+ dominates in terms of demand and supply share for unscripted TV content. The service’s specialization in documentaries and reality TV, which are among the most popular genres of unscripted TV, gives it a unique advantage. Following Discovery+, Peacock stands out with over 40% of its shows being unscripted. These shows contribute to over a third of the total catalog demand. Peacock benefits from a wide range of Bravo and NBC reality shows, including “The Voice,” which is the most in-demand unscripted show in the U.S. this year.

Paramount+ and Hulu both see a significant demand share from unscripted content at 22.4%. Both services feature “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the second most in-demand unscripted show this year. Beyond that, Paramount+ benefits from a number of CBS shows such as “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race,” while Hulu hosts a considerable amount of licensed content, including “Impractical Jokers.”

Demand for unscripted shows, Jan.-April 2023, U.S. (Parrot Analytics)
Demand for unscripted shows, Jan.-April 2023, U.S. (Parrot Analytics)

Conversely, services like Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and Netflix rely less on unscripted shows, as indicated by their lower shares of demand and supply for the genre. The impending combination of HBO Max and Discovery+ as Max on Tuesday will likely achieve a more balanced content mix, combining Discovery+’s unscripted content with HBO Max’s acclaimed dramas.

Daniel Quinaud is a senior data analyst at Parrot Analytics, a WrapPRO partner. For more from Parrot Analytics, visit the Data and Analysis Hub.

For all of TheWrap’s WGA strike coverage, click here.

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