Who Won Streaming’s Biggest Week of the Year?

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We continue with the “sweeps week” theme in this edition of the streaming ratings. As I mentioned last time, streaming was up the last week of the year. Wayyyy up. As such, so are all the ratings. Today we continue our streaming ratings report for the week starting 27-Dec-2022, this time with TV.

(Reminder: The streaming ratings report compiles data from Nielsen’s weekly top ten viewership ranks, Netflix datecdotes, 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 December 27th to January 3rd 2022.)

EntStrategyGuy In Other Places

If you missed it, I’ve been publishing at The Ankler—behind their paywall—since last fall. If you haven’t seen them, check out my recent pieces, including an article on “the worst case scenario” for Disney and recommendations for how Netflix could change strategies, given their terrible earnings call.

But that’s not all! This week also featured the return of my strategy column on the most important story of December (Spider-Man taking over the box office) and last week (more on Netflix’s earnings report). Read that at my website.


I didn’t think we’d get another series joining the 40 million hours club so soon, but Cobra Kai did it. 

Season 4 of Cobra Kai netted 40.4 million hours on its debut on 31-Dec-2021, the 8th highest week of the year and and the biggest season four release to date:

And like I said, it joins a club I made up, the “forty million hour club”, meaning a series with total viewership above forty million in one week:

And the other recent Netflix releases held strong. The Witcher stayed at around 30 million hours. Emily in Paris had a small bump up to 18.5 million hours. That’s a great finish to the year, though not quite as strong as the run Netflix had in Sep/October with Squid Game, Maid, and You season 3:

Did it help that viewership was up across the board, as Nielsen reported? Obviously, but Netflix still took advantage, wisely, of this situation. It had multiple returning series (two season twos and one season three) and they delivered big ratings with lots of episodes to watch. If anything, though, this makes Squid Game’s performance more impressive: it drove tons of viewership when folks still had to go to work. 

This does deepen the ongoing mystery of “the mysterious case of the missing subscriber growth”. Why didn’t Netflix have a bigger finish to 2021 given all this content?

On the one hand, likely The Witcher and definitely Cobra Kai came too late to help drive subscriber growth in Q4 of 2021. And Netflix did add 1.2 million U.S. and Canadian subscribers last quarter. But still…that’s it?

For the cynical among us, it means that great content just can’t drive that much additional subscriber growth in mature markets. That’s the price of doing business for Netflix now. Which if that sound expensive…yeah.

Quick Notes on TV

– On the weekly release front, Hawkeye finished its run and had the usual “week after new episodes release” decay. But Disney+ was already back with new episodes of The Book of Boba Fett, which debuted with only one episode to 6.5 million hours, good for 47th place among season one debuts. Using “viewers per episode” to account for lower volume, it jumps up to 4th place among season 1 debuts, behind Hawkeye, but ahead of The Wheel of Time. My gut—and based on some Google Trends data—is that Boba Fett will perform under The Mandalorian, but it will stay on the ratings charts throughout its run. 

The Wheel of Time edged out Hawkeye this week with 10.5 million hours to Hawkeye’s 9.0 million hours. When both series drop off the Nielsen charts, we’ll do a deep dive into these weekly releases.

– Netflix released the latest season of their Queer Eye reboot on 31-Dec. Depending how you count, this is either season 6 or 7. The previous season—based in Japan—made the Nielsen charts back in June of 2020 with 10.6 million hours viewed in week 2. This season debuted to 7.8 million hours in its first week of release. 

Stay Close is the latest British import to hit Netflix. A mystery series, it debuted on Friday 31-Dec with 5.8 million hours, good for 51st overall in season 1 debuts.

– “Dog Not Barking” of the Week: Daughter from Another Mother on Netflix. This Mexican import has done well for Netflix globally, but in the U.S.? Not so much, a point I like to remind all my readers, especially if you read any of the 45,000 articles telling us that Squid Game presaged a new era for international imports in America. Does it? Maybe, but American still tend to watch English language shows. The second season debuted on 24-Dec, but didn’t make the Nielsen ratings charts.

– Other contenders for the top “dog not barking” crown were Letterkenny season 10 on Hulu (a Canadian import), Station Eleven on HBO Max (it only made one week of TV Time rankings), and The Real Housewives of Miami on Peacock.

– The other potential flops that we’re monitoring are Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer (its predecessor did shockingly good numbers last spring), The Standups on Netflix (they’ve plowed a tone of money into standup specials), and Single’s Inferno (a South Korean dating show; see my point about Squid Game above).


With this week, 2021 is in the books. Expect some more analysis later—see below—but we can check in on this chart I’ve been making, which shows the share of the Nielsen three top ten lists by streamer:

(Technically, that’s 53 weeks of data, as that’s how long Nielsen has released their three top ten lists for.)

Given that Nielsen said streaming was up across the board, can we see this in total volume of hours streamed? To show that, here’s a stacked by chart by total hours viewed, a look some folks have asked for:

Netflix does slightly better in total hours than by total shows, but not as much as you’d think. (Netflix owned 74% of the total by count, and 77% by total hours.) Here’s the summary of 2021 not by week:

Why does Netflix do better in total hours? Because they dominate the acquired TV charts, whereas Disney+ and Prime Video have taken the most share from Netflix in films, which have shorter run times. A question to watch for 2022—as I wrote in The Ankler—is how both of these charts trend into 2022.

Anecdata of the Week 

Kasey Moore of What’s On Netflix compiled all the Netflix top ten charts by country and then tracked the origin of TV and film shows by country too. Together, he can show how popular content is based on the country of origin. This chart shows the dominance of U.S. based content since Netflix began releasing this data in Q2 of 2020:

The entire article is worth a read. It will be fascinating to see how this shifts over time. Presumably, Netflix will invest more content budget into international series, but will that impact the perception of Netflix in the U.S.

Coming Soon! 

This week, it’s the big one, the winners of 2021. We have all 52 weeks of Nielsen data, a few other “top shows/films of 2021” lists, so it’s time to call out who won, who lost and who barely competed. (You can probably guess the winner of the year in TV, can’t you?)

We can take this short deviation into winners and losers because the first two weeks of the year were fairly quiet in streaming. A little too quiet. I’ll analyze the weeks of 3-Jan and 10-Jan in a double-stuffed streaming ratings report in February.

(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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