As a reminder, each week I mainly cast my gaze back in time four weeks, since that’s when we get Nielsen’s U.S. data. And this report focuses on the U.S. because:
1. It’s still the biggest single market for streaming.
2. It has the most competition.
3. It’s the leading indicator for how the streaming wars will play out globally because of that competition.
4. It has the most data sources for ratings and viewership.
Which means its worth keeping in mind that during the week of Monday 7-February to Sunday 13-February, a lot big events were competing with streaming from attention. The Olympics continued from their 4-February start and then the Super Bowl took over TV on the 13th. That’s a lot of sports content!
Did that take a bite out of streaming ratings? It’s tough to tell, and we probably won’t see until Nielsen’s The Gauge comes out.
(Reminder: The streaming ratings report focuses on the U.S. market and compiles data from Nielsen’s weekly top ten viewership ranks, TV Time trend data, Netflix datecdotes and hours viewed data, Netflix 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 February 7th to February 13th.)
Here’s a not shocking headline: Ozark is crushing it. Through four weeks, it’s been watched for 176.6 million hours, making it the biggest series in the U.S. since April of 2020.
(Why April? Well if we include March 2020, Ozark season 3 [254.7 million hours] and Tiger King season 1 [210 million hours] had higher runs, but their massive viewership was partially driven by Covid-19 lockdowns. Also, Squid Game had a really slow start, so over eight weeks, Ozark likely won’t pass it.)
That’s impressive! Really impressive. Three thoughts on this.
Thought 1: Where’s the buzz?
As you can see in that data up top—this is the biggest series release in my data set through four weeks…
And no one is talking about it!
It beat Cobra Kai, Lucifer, Squid Game, The Crown and Bridgerton. It’s bigger than Manifest too. But I swear I saw more articles and think pieces about all of those shows than Ozark. Why doesn’t Ozark get the love?
Well, like Yellowstone—which only got the think piece treatment when it’s last season smashed the ratings—I think this just isn’t a show “people” take about. By people I mean, people on the coasts/young people/people on Twitter.
To stereotype, it’s a “Dad” show. Meaning your dad watches it, then sends an email to all his friends asking if they watched it. And he doesn’t tweet about it because he doesn’t use Twitter! The dads take the same approach to Yellowstone. Because, like Yellowstone, dads love crime shows. Especially well-made ones. It has an 8.5 IMDb rating on 250K reviews, both elite numbers.
Thought 2: Is this a U.S.-hit, but not a global hit?
Another interesting point is that Ozark doesn’t seem to be doing as well overseas as it did in the U.S. Through February 6th, according to Netflix’s global numbers, Ozark’s current season only had the 32nd highest single week since back to July 2021. It also didn’t make the Netflix “most popular through 28 days” top ten. So while it’s doing fine globally, it’s not a monster like it is in the U.S.
This could set up a nice little quad chart then:
As you can see, some shows are huge globally, but meh in the U.S. (notably Money Heist and Lupin). Many are big in both places (Squid Game, Bridgerton and The Witcher, for example). And many, many, many, many shows do poorly in both the U.S. and overseas. (But that’s just the entertainment biz.)
But much more rarely does a show really do well in the U.S. but fail to do well globally. Ozark may be such a show. Does this mean that’s bad for Netflix? I’d say no. The U.S. (with maybe Canada included) is probably the one market which can support a show by itself. If a title were huge just in, say, Germany, but bombed everywhere else, that’s probably a miss. But if a show is a monster in the U.S., that’s still a win for Netflix.
Thought 3: Ownership!
One last point: Ozark is produced by Media Rights Capital, so it’s technically a licensed show, though Netflix could have a long first window. But someday, it too could leave Netflix a la the Marvel shows. (And Orange is the New Black.)
Quick Notes on TV
– The big debut of the week for Netflix was Inventing Anna, from showrunner Shonda Rhimes on Friday 11-Feb. Rhimes didn’t technically “run” Bridgerton—she executive produced it—so this is her first show under her huge overall deal. It debuted at 20.3 million hours—good for 5th place overall—and did about what Bridgerton did in its first week (20.1 million hours). We’ll see how it trends long term, but globally it did the business, becoming the sixth biggest TV series debut of all time. (Also, interestingly, the nine episodes are very long, average 67 minutes.)
– Also premiering this week is another Netflix adult animated series, season 4 of Disenchantment from Simpsons co-creator Matt Groening. How do we think those do overall? Well, if you read my big take on it over at The Ankler, not great. With a Wednesday 9-Feb release, it had a lot of days to rack up viewership, and what did it do? 6.6 million hours. What did the season 2 release do in January of 2021? 6.6 and 6.7 million hours. For context, that’s good for 12th place among season three releases, but that’s still pretty middle of the road.
– On the reality competition front, Netflix has two fun tests running. Too Hot To Handle dropped off the Nielsen rankings after three weeks of 3.2, 6.6 and 5.1 million hours of viewing. Frankly, that seems to be either an indictment of this series (it may not be good) or the release model (binge released). Just check out the culture that surrounds The Bachelor, with podcasts and blog recaps and crazy Reddit forums with people yelling at each other over people they don’t know. This reality dating show? Crickets.
Conversely, Love Is Blind season two debuted on Friday, 11-February with four episodes. I’m not sure how to classify this, so added a new category of “batch”, since Netflix will release three sets of episodes. It debuted to 8.0 million hours. That’s good. According to TV Time, it will be the first place and then second place series for the next three weeks. Does the release style determine that whole run? No, but I do think it helps.
– A few releases recently have had about perfect “binge release curves”, including All of Us Are Dead (7.5 to 14.2 to 7.6 million hours), Archive 81 (5.5 to 17.3 to 7.7) and In From the Cold (5.8 million hours to 11.0 million hours to off the list).
– Let’s keep an eye on Reacher. I did wonder whether it would go up or down in its second week. The answer is down. In its second week, it had 26.5 million hours viewed, down from the epic 30.7 million hours in its debut. In a few weeks, we’ll see how Reacher lasts compared to other Netflix binge released titles.
– In the “acquired” or licensed titles, we have a little bit of movement at the back end of the top ten. (The top is usually some combination of NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy, CoComelon, Criminal Minds and, since October, Seinfeld.) Specifically, Rick & Morty debuted season 5 episodes on Hulu, and as such made the list. Season 5 came out on linear on back in June, but Hulu has a delay before they get episodes. Older episodes are also available on HBO Max. As I’ve mentioned before, I think this show is a monster for adult animation—the exception that proves the rule—so interesting to see it on the list. Downton Abbey (on Netflix, Prime Video and Peacock) and New Girl (only Netflix) also returned to the list, previously showing up on January and December respectively. The Simpsons also triumphantly returned to the list.
– You know what? Let’s toss some scorn at Paramount+ this week. We all know that HBO Max doesn’t let Nielsen release their data, but we’re all fairly sure they’ve launched a few legitimate hits. (Like the Sex and the City reboot, Peacemaker and definitely their Warner Bros films. And I’d love to see Euphoria numbers!)
But Paramount+ doesn’t release their data either! And I don’t call them out nearly as often. And we’re not quite as sure their shows are hits. So here goes:
C’mon Paramount+, let Nielsen release your data!
In this ratings week, Paramount+ started releasing new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery. This isn’t technically a second season, but a return from a break a la broadcast’s winter vacations. I definitely think Star Trek: Discovery isn’t a “Dog Not Barking”, and it’s been on the TV Time weekly rankings for a few weeks, as you can see above. But man I wish I knew its ratings numbers. With a 7.1 IMDb rating on 117K reviews, that’s a “fine” number for sci-fi series.
– Dog Not Barking of the Week: It was close, but Dark Desire ended up taking the top prize. Season one of this global hit got the “datecdote” treatment with 35 million hours viewed. The second season did fine, but lagged well behind All Of Us Are Dead, which is a global hit. (That’s currently fifth place on Netflix’s 28 day rankings for non-English TV series.)
– Other dogs not barking include Raised By Wolves on HBO Max and Your Attention Please on Hulu. Raised by Wolves just seems to have a ton of buzz, but it didn’t make any of the rankings systems I track. Your Attention Please—an interview show with Craig Robinson—has 20 reviews on IMDb, which might be the lowest number of ratings I’ve ever seen, especially for a show on its fourth season.
Is Marry Me Peacock’s biggest hit period since it launched? Say non-Olympics TV series or film?
Let’s run through the highlights. First off, it won the week for the TV Time rankings:
Now it had a tremendous lead in—the Olympics!!!—but you still got to take that and run. That’s also tied with Halloween Kills as Peacock’s biggest streaming title. So that seems to be our biggest other contender. When it comes to Google Trends, give the prize to Halloween Kills:
But when it comes to IMDb, Halloween Kills has a pretty bad 5.6 rating on 67K reviews. Marry Me has a 6.1 on 16K reviews, which honestly isn’t much better. Samba TV didn’t release numbers for Marry Me either, so we can’t use that to compare. If we go to the U.S. box office, Halloween Kills earned $92 million and Marry Me earned $21.6 million. So final call? Halloween Kills is Peacock’s biggest release to date.
Quick Notes on Film
– Remember when I made the category of shows that perform globally, but don’t resonate in the U.S.? Like two sections up? Well, here’s an example on the film side. Netflix launched Through My Window, a Spanish (as in from Spain) rom-com, released on 4-February. With 33.2 million hours in its first two weeks globally, it’s the biggest foreign, non-English title since Spoiled Brats back in 29-Nov. But it never made the U.S. rankings. Like I mentioned many times before, international titles struggle to break through in the U.S., making the Squid Games and Blood Red Sky’s of the world all the more impressive.
– Our next two films each felt like they could have done a bit better. Starting with Tall Girl 2, released on Netflix on 11-February. The sequel strategy usually works for Netflix, especially with rom-coms aimed at tweens/teenagers. The first Tall Girl got the datecdote treatment back in Q3 of 2019, with 40 million folks watching 70%. But we didn’t know how that would translate to the U.S. It turns out “meh”, with only 3.3 million hours viewed in its opening weekend. As I’m exploring each week, could this mean Nielsen has a data error? I doubt it. Tall Girl 2 only had a one week run on the TV Time charts, meaning it didn’t have a lot of interest:
– Prime Video released the indie rom-com I Want You Back. This film seems charming—and has two actors I really like leading—but it didn’t seem to resonate with audiences, with only 2.5 million hours viewed in the U.S. in its opening weekend. That’s good for 119 out of 123 straight-to-streaming films that earned a debut spot on Nielsen. (Another 17 films scored in a future week, but didn’t open in the rankings.) It also has a 6.6 IMDb rating on 10K reviews. Anything below a seven is unlikely to see a big bump in future ratings.
– Netflix released The Privilege, a German supernatural horror film on 9-Feb and it made the Nielsen rankings. Though still small, with only 2.7 million hours, good for 116th overall. But here’s the thing: it currently has a 4.6 rating on IMDb on about 3.2K reviews. So…is that good? Like honestly does it help Netflix to release not just bad, but terrible films? Does that help their brand? I say no.
– We also have an end to the run of Eternals. As I mentioned when it debuted, I just don’t think this super-hero flick is in the same category of popularity as Shang-Chi or other Marvel series. So how did it do in its run? About the same as Shang-Chi. So I was wrong on that. Here’s my Disney PVOD/SVOD chart I’ve been tracking:
– Let’s monitor four films this week for “miss/bomb” status. KIMI from Steven Soderbergh on HBO Max did debut at number one in the TV Time charts, but seemed to drop off quickly. Bigbug is by the director of Amelie, but it seemed to miss most of the charts (and was very low on the Netflix global charts). Apple TV+ has The Sky Is Everywhere. And lastly Hulu had Spencer.
Next week, we also get to see how Bel-Air performed. It had the lead in of all lead-in with the Olympics pushing it heavily. But it has a good chance to be a dog not barking. It will have a lot of competition too. Prime Video will release the latest episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Apple TV+ will release Severance—which felt buzzy—and Netflix, meanwhile, will release The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Longer term, Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla seems to be off to a good start. Meanwhile, this week Disney+ has their next big straight-to-streaming animated title, Turning Red.
In the even longer term, we recently had a new trailer of Obi-wan from Disney+. Don’t think that can come soon enough for them!
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