Is the Streaming Winner of October Actually…Warner Bros?

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What a week for data!

For those who haven’t seen it, Netflix announced the biggest data news yet of the streaming wars. Specifically, each week they’ll release, in near real time, the total hours viewed for their top English and Non-English language film and TV series. Forty data points each week! And on top of that, they provided 20 weeks of data to parse. 800 data points total!

That’s a lot. And I spent some of this week just starting to dig in. So here’s the schedule: On Monday, that will be my “story of the week”. On Wednesday, I’ll provide an article with my thoughts on the data. Then I’m taking the streaming ratings report off on Friday (for Thanksgiving), and it will be out Monday.

In the meantime, the ratings data!

(Reminder: The streaming ratings report compiles data from Nielsen’s weekly top ten viewership ranks, Netflix datecdotes and hours viewed data, Samba TV data, Top Ten lists, Google Trends and IMDb to determine the most popular content. While most data points are current, Nielsen’s data covers the weeks of October 18th to October 24th.)


A few folks reached out to me to make this point: 

October wasn’t a big month for Netflix…but for Warner Bros!

That’s right, Warner Media nee Bros has long had a successful TV business. Before the launch of The CW, they were the lone major studio without a TV network, so they worked extra hard to sell shows, given that they didn’t have an automatic outlet. Hence a lot of big shows associated with other networks (Friends, The Big Bang Theory for just two examples) are Warner Bros TV shows. 

And when Netflix started buying, Warner Bros started selling. You can see the results of this in October across streaming. Looking past the streamer to the actual owner of shows, eight of the top 30 shows on the Nielsen charts came from Warner Bros, including the big hits Maid and You. Here’s a visual of just this week’s streaming ratings, sorted by distributor:

This shows how many different folks Warner Bros TV sold shows to in the past:

You —> Lifetime to Netflix
Shameless —> Showtime (first run) to Netflix (second run)
Maid —> Netflix (first run)
In The Dark, Legacies, Riverdale —> CW (first run) to Netflix (second run)

Last year, when the Nielsen Top 10 list first came out, I noted that “Netflix only owns 3.3% of its top shows.” I need to rerun that analysis, but as the last week/two weeks shows, all the streamers (sans Disney+) still rely on a lot of licensed/co-produced content. 

Quick Notes on TV

– With the success of the “top 3” of Squid Game, Maid and, especially, You this week, Netflix’s big returning series, Locke & Key, had a lackluster season 2 launch. It garnered 10.6 million hours, good for 11th place out of 28 season two releases in my data set. Season one premiered in February of 2020, just before the ratings started so I’ve always been curious how well it really performed, and this answers that: not great.

You and Squid Game both continue to perform. You had the 7th highest single week this year and Squid Game had the 13th highest this year. Through two weeks, You’s season 3 viewership of 77 million hours is only behind Cobra Kai (78.6 million) and Ozark (145 million hours).

– As the table above shows, the newest season of three “CW Shows” arrived on Netflix in mid-October, leading to all three—In The Dark, Riverdale and Legacies—earning spots on the licensed TV list. Judging by the launches of other second-run CW shows, I’d guess they hang around for a week or two.

– Seinfeld. This is an interesting one, because it’s still on the Nielsen rankings with 9.9 million hours, after weeks of 9.8 and 9.7. That’s solid, but I’m curious how long it holds on for. Based on the top ten data, it should have dropped off now. So we’ll see how it holds up. There is also the possibility that the top ten data (including maybe the hours viewed data) have time limits so after a certain date after release they are no longer included. I need to test this theory.

My Name, a Korean crime/revenge drama released on 15-October will be a fun one to track after the success of Squid Game. It won’t achieve the same level of success, and it’s doing well globally, but how will it compare to other foreign language titles in the U.S.? Does Squid Game open up new opportunities? Currently, it had 4.6 million hours in its second week of release, good for 73rd out of 88 season 1 launches in the data set.

– Dog Not Barking of the Week: I Know What You Did Last Summer on Prime Video. This YA adaptation has all the hallmarks of a show that would take over Netflix a la Virgin River or Outer Banks. And it’s based on good IP during Halloween season. And yet it didn’t make the Nielsen ratings, so Prime Video has the biggest flop of the week.

– Other confirmed titles that missed the rankings after debuting the week before: Disney+’s Just Beyond, Hulu’s Dopesick, Netflix’s The Movies That Made Us and Prime Video’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. That last title has over 50 episodes, so if it resonated with kids—and I don’t think Prime Video does; Apple TV+ may have already passed them with children—we’d have seen it. Dopesick is the lone weekly release, so it could have a slow burn.

– Biggest Dog Not Barking Candidate of the Week: Sex, Love & Goop on Netflix. Released on 21-Oct, this title didn’t make the ratings and I have to ask: does any real person actually follow or use Goop? I know that the media writes about it all the time…but what data do we have this is a successful media business? Let’s see if this show proves me wrong next week.


The big release of the week in streaming films was Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuune, HBO’s buzzy, hopefully franchise-starting film what one website called “the most anticipated sci-fi film of the year”. So did it do well enough to get a sequel? It did. Because HBO Max/Warner Media is desperate for franchises. 

But is it a hit?

This week, for the first time, I’m using Samba TV data in a visual. Here are the top Samba TV data points I’ve collected to date—using any open source news site—and even some “future” releases. These are, as far as I can tell, opening weekend points:

Other data firms had slightly better results. Reelgood, for example, had Dune as one of the most in-demand films, though this could be more a sign of interest in the buzz than actual viewership:

Plus, you know, it did gross $95 million dollars in the U.S. and $258 million more globally. (That’s approximately $354 million more than Red Notice, Netflix’s current biggest film.) 

So is it a hit? Probably not. I don’t hold the Red Notice performance against Dune, because Netflix just has more size than HBO Max. But according to Samba TV,  Mortal Kombat outpaced Dune. I’d love to compare Nielsen viewership data as well, but HBO Max doesn’t release that either. 

(For another take on Dune, Brandon Katz of Observer had a good write up too.)

Quick Notes on Film

– Gazing at the film list, with Black Widow being the top film with only 4.5 million hours, it feels light, doesn’t it? I mean, look at the “Top 30ish” ranks this week, the highest film is still smaller then than smallest TV series, something I don’t think we’ve ever seen before:

So I pulled the total film viewership in the U.S. and this week is near the bottom of the list:

– Netflix’s big new title is the horror film Night Teeth, released on 20-Oct. This is a horror title, so all my worrying that horror doesn’t play may be for naught! Except that it ranked 86th out of 95 titles in my data set, with 3.1 million hours viewed.

– Wasn’t sure where to put this next title, but Oprah’s Bookclub is back as an Apple TV+ original. How well did the first episode do? Not well enough to make the ratings—so a “dog not barking” candidate—but here’s the crazies factoid: Through two years of episodes, it has 102 ratings total votes on IMDb. Not 102,000, 102 total. That’s low. Crazy low.


In Field of Dreams, they said “If you build it, they will come.” Well for streaming it should be, “If you make it [it being good content] they will stream.” That’s the story with this month’s The Gauge from Nielsen, which reported that usage of Netflix grew 5.5% month over month, moving them up to 7% (rounded) of all TV video consumption:

What’s the driver of this? A few big shows. Here’s the table I made last week, updated with the top three shows. (Maid just dropped below the 20 million threshold, but close enough.)

Anecdata of the Week 

By my count, there are three different applications that help users find shows to watch on streaming, Reelgood, Just Watch and TV Time by Whip Media. (For the record, I’ve worked closest with Reelgood in the past, but Just Watch has been sending me data over the last few months.) Each tracks what shows and films users are searching and watching. Just Watch claims 20 million users across 52 countries. 

A few weeks back, Just Watch sent me their Q3 summary of “interest in streaming services” for the U.S. Now, this data is one step below actual behavioral data (meaning tracking viewership), but a step above social metrics. In particular, it useful for the growth trends over time:

Coming Soon! 

– Next week we’ll keep our eyes out for SEAL Team data, a ViacomCBS series that moved from broadcast to streaming, and by some metrics is getting streaming love. Other than that, the big film of the week is likely to be Netflix’s Army of Thieves.

– Longer term, the fun story in November is Netflix’s Arcane, based on the wildly popular video game, League of Legends. We know it did well globally—thanks again Netflix to the hours viewed data—but what does that mean for the U.S. market? Moreover, Netflix released Arcane—wait for it—weekly! That’s right, three episodes a week over three weeks! We’ll see if that impacts the numbers.

Wheel of Time!!! A while back—I mean a long time back, like 2019—I asked a challenging question that I never really answered, “Who will win the battle for the next Game of Thrones?” At the time, and still, the biggest contenders were HBO’s GoT prequels and Amazon’s outrageously expensive Lord of the Rings series. But since both of those series are due in 2022 (or later), some other fantasy titles have shown up in the meantime, including Prime Video’s Wheel of Time, released this week. Will it live up to the hype? We’ll see.

Also, like The Boys last year, Prime Video is releasing this series weekly. Two weekly releases!!!On Twitter, I wondered whether Squid Game would have been more popular as a weekly series, and really there is no answer—honestly, could it get more popular?!?!?—but it’s a fun thought exercise!

(As always, sign up for my newsletter to get all my columns, streaming ratings reports, and articles in your inbox.)

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

Former strategy and business development guy at a major streaming company. But I like writing more than sending email, so I launched this website to share what I know.


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