Streaming wars: the actors Netflix and Amazon customers want to see

January 14, 2016, 12:11 PM UTC

Netflix customers prefer the new rising stars of Hollywood – while Amazon Video viewers want the classics

In a year Netflix has more than doubled its share price, spent millions on original shows and entered the movie market with its own productions. Amazon Video is now serious competition – the streaming service took home two Golden Globes this week while Netflix went home empty handed – and its recent purchase of the BBC’s former vast revenue raiser Top Gear looks set to fuel Amazon’s rise. To stay ahead of the game both streaming services need to know which shows to buy and be sure new acting recruits for original productions will pull a crowd.

New research from YouGov Profiles reveals the actors most preferred by customers of Netflix and Amazon Video compared to the general public. The two consumer bases are fairly distinct fields, but in the war of expansion these services will need to steal each others' natural viewers.

By analysing the demographics of almost 2000 Netflix and 1000 Amazon Video customers we know that Netflix viewers are younger and more likely to be female. This makes the purchase of Top Gear a smart move for Amazon Video, whose viewers are 52% male and 48% female, and 64% over-35 compared to 50% for Netflix.

It also helps to explain the success of Netflix original Orange is the New Black, the story of an inmate's experience at a women’s prison (the brand’s most-watched series), and their new superhero series Jessica Jones. Clueless, the cult favourite of the Buzzfeed generation, is the second highest most correlated movie with Netflix viewers.

In terms of preferred stars, Amazon viewers are keener on award winning classic actors, with a large proportion of Brits. Two-time Academy Award winner George Clooney and three-time Golden Globe winner Robert Downey Jr. are the only two American actors in Amazon subscribers’ top ten line-up. The rest are all from the British Isles, and include old-timers from a stage and TV background such as Patrick Stewart and Hugh Laurie.

On Netflix viewers want the new, edgier stars making waves in Hollywood – Tom Hardy, sharing the screen with Leonardo DiCaprio in Oscar-tipped The Revenant, Eddie Redmayne, who won best actor in a movie at the Golden Globes for his role as a trans pioneer, and Jennifer Lawrence, an Oscar winner at the age of 23.

Three of the Netflix viewers’ top 10 are women, compared to only one for Amazon. And eight of the Netflix viewers’ top 10 are from the US, which makes perfect sense – 36% of Netflix customers say they prefer watching American TV to British programmes, compared to only 22% of the general public.