In the golden age of TV we currently find ourselves in, its easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of quality shows coming at us from every direction. Not only do we have traditional networks working hard to find the next iconic program, but there are also no shortage of compelling shows coming from the likes of Netflix, Amazon, HBO, cable networks like USA and AMC, Showtime and more.

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In an effort to analyze which companies have the best touch when it comes to picking quality shows, Exstreamist recently took a look at the average Rotten Tomatoes critics scores from 2013 to the present across Netflix, HBO, and the four major broadcast networks. Note that when looking at programming from the likes of NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX, the site filtered out reality TV programming.

The results from Exstreamist’s tabulation reveals that while the quality of Netflix programming is higher than what one might find on the major networks, it still can’t top HBO.

rotten tomatoes scores

Interestingly enough, HBO, which obviously garners strong reviews and ratings for shows like Game of Thrones, was criticized this past summer for what many deemed to be a lackluster launch of new programming. Not only was the second season of True Detective laughably disappointing, but The Brink was also received somewhat harshly. Nonetheless, shows like GOT, Veep, and Silicon Valley apparently ranked high enough to offset some of those duds.

Extreamist astutely points out that Netflix and HBO have something of an advantage with respect to programming because they’re not bound by the same stringent regulations as the broadcast networks are. HBO’s Ballers, for instance, would never be able to air on a primetime network.

So are Netflix and HBO actually that much better than the broadcast networks at picking shows? It certainly seems they have a slight advantage, but there are other factors that likely influence this success.

For starters, Netflix and HBO are not operating under the same constraints as network television, and have a lot more flexibility across the board when it comes to production. They don’t have the FCC breathing down their necks for every curse word, they don’t have to rely on high-value time slot performance for advertisers, and aren’t stuck on traditional television schedules.

Valid points. Still, there are no shortage of examples of broadcast networks passing on TV shows that ultimately became highly successful elsewhere. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, for instance, could have been an NBC show had they decided not to pass. Instead, it wound up on Netflix where it’s now one of the streaming service’s most popular shows.

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