Will back catalogs win the streaming wars?

Cast of friends leaning over a table, playing a game - streaming wars

Netflix has seemingly cornered the market by streaming original shows. With big titles like Stranger Things, The Witcher, Orange Is the New Black, Grace and Frankie, Big Mouth and many more, it has a number of popular series, as well as a huge library of other original titles. However, as time goes on, the streamer is seeing its back catalog of older shows dwindle.

Checking out: The best original streaming shows on every major platform

That may very well be the cause of the declining reputation among subscribers. Amid a dip in subscribers, Netflix is ​​also now facing the reality that it has the lowest “value satisfaction” of any major streamer, according to a recent Whip Media poll. That means people no longer think Netflix is ​​really worth the price of admission compared to the competition.

We can’t blame the loss of many much-loved titles from the old catalog, of course, but it couldn’t have helped. Netflix was once one of the few streaming destinations online. As such, it has licensed countless shows and movies from almost everyone. But when companies like WarnerMedia (now Warner Bros. Discovery), NBCUniversal, Disney, and Paramount launched their own subscription services, they naturally became more patroness of their prized libraries.

HBO Max has caught up with Netflix in the streaming wars.

Among them, HBO Max was one of the main stars. Mixed with original series such as The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Raised By Wolves, Station Eleven, and Minx, the Warner Bros. subsidiary offers. Discovery also has access to titles from HBO, Warner Bros., the Cartoon Network, the CW, New Line Cinema, and more. HBO Max ranked first for “value satisfaction” in the same poll in which Netflix lost public trust, and we think it owes that to its extensive back catalog of shows.

HBO Max logo


HBO Max is your home for Warner Bros. movies and TV shows like The Lord of the Rings, the DC Comics superheroes and more. It is also home to new and original movies and shows not available anywhere else.

Discovering classics, revisiting favourites

The Sopranos eat dinner in a restaurant - HBO library

One of my favorite streaming “discoveries” of the past year was The Sopranos. (Yes, as an entertainment writer, it was a huge hole in my viewing history, but there are only so many hours in a day and many more TV shows than that.)

I certainly wasn’t the only one. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the classic HBO series has seen a massive revival, especially among new, young viewers. It remains a smart, gripping, and even topical show, more than two decades later, and it’s a prototypical example of prestige TV, paving the way for some of the best shows of recent years.

Young viewers have been discovering The Sopranos en masse in recent years.

That’s the beauty of HBO Max. I have easy access to The Sopranos and other HBO classics, plus newer titles like Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Girls, Game of Thrones, and many more. If I missed them the first time, I may go back — alone or as part of the cultural zeitgeist — and get caught up. Those classics can be rediscovered at any time by a new audience, separated from the constant stream (pun intended) of new content.

Also see: The best shows on HBO Max

A similar and perhaps even stronger case can be made for revisiting favorites. Warner Bros. Discovery broke the internet in 2019 when the NBC classic Friends was removed from Netflix, only to later make its way to the company’s own nascent streamer HBO Max. NBCUniversal similarly made headlines when it reclaimed its fan-favorite sitcom The Office, now hosted exclusively on Peacock.

What could be better than ending the day with old Frasier or The Golden Girls episodes?

Rewatches mean a lot of money in streaming. What could be better than ending the day with old episodes of Frasier, The Golden Girls, Law & Order or Batman: The Animated Series? In 2017, a bizarrely specific subreddit even complained about the removal of Futurama from Netflix, not just because the members loved the show, but rather because they had to let it play in order to sleep comfortably. Personally, I’m getting ready to re-watch HBO’s stunningly good The Leftovers – once I finish The Sopranos.

HBO Max has made great strides in the streaming wars

HBO Max Interface - Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - HBO Max Library

Over the years, Netflix’s prices have continued to rise, even though its own third-party back-catalog titles have disappeared. Hence the declining perception of its value.

The cheaper HBO Max, on the other hand, is a value contender from day one. The back catalog of already popular titles is certainly no small part of that. It features a healthy balance of movies and TV shows, including a wealth of older titles to complement the Max originals. But HBO Max isn’t alone in this: Hulu, Disney Plus, Peacock, and Paramount Plus are also drawing on their corporate executives’ libraries to compete with Netflix’s significant lead.

Related: The best Netflix original shows

As time goes by, Netflix originals will age and some will definitely remain favorites. There must be people who go to sleep to the sound of BoJack Horseman, for example. And cult titles like The OA and Sense8 certainly have their return viewers. But reaching that “classic” status will take time, and while Netflix now has an edge in streaming originals, it’s still decades behind its old catalog.

That means HBO Max is catching up with the streaming wars and catching up quickly.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few more seasons of The Sopranos to get through.