After what felt like a few slow weeks—or months—without huge news, this week had some pretty big developments. MGM and Amazon is happening! Netflix is testing their strongest response to password sharing yet! Disney got Indian Premiere League rights! With all that news, my “most important story of the week” feature will return next week.
But for now, it’s time for some streaming ratings.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle this week around Netflix’s The Babysitters Club. It was cancelled, then the showrunner went to Vulture to bemoan the cancellation, taking shots at Netflix’s data and their so-called algorithm along the way. (I’ll have more the “algorithm” in a future post…)
But my main takeaway was this: this is why this report exists.
At the end of the day, the primary driver of whether or not a show is cancelled is popularity. Popular shows don’t get cancelled. (The second driver is budget. Expensive shows are more likely get cancelled.) Seriously, if you gave me viewership and cost, I could predict 95% of cancellations in the world.
(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 14th to February 20th.)
The story for the week is Bel-Air, but, and this is the twist…
That says more about Paramount+ than Peacock.
Go with me on this. By all rights, Bel-Air is a flop. A dud. A miss. Nielsen doesn’t track Peacock week-to-week—or better said, they do but Peacock/NBC doesn’t let them release their weekly ratings in their top ten charts (which is probably smart on their part)—but other streaming analytics firms do.
Here’s the TV Time charts the week after it released:
Bel-Air never made their charts. On IMDb, it has an anemic 6.3 rating on only 6.1K reviews right now. For comparison, Reacher has 80K reviews and 1883 (the Yellowstone spinoff) has 43K. Google Trends backs this up too:
(Update: It turns out that if one uses “Bel Air” without the dash, it performed much better in Google Trends. As someone who prides themselves as a Google Trends master, this was a miss. I’ll address this next issue.)
As I hinted at last week, Peacock has really struggled to launch new shows. I just don’t think many are are hits. On the film side, I speculated last week they have maybe two total hits.
Why did I bring up Paramount+ then? Because they don’t have this problem. As I wrote in The Ankler this week, I’m currently updating my estimates for U.S. paid streaming subscribers for the end of 2021. We know that Peacock has about 9 million paid subscribers. Right now, I think Paramount+ has at least 15 million, and maybe upwards of 20+ million. And that extra ten million or so may be the difference in launching hit shows and releasing duds. Bel-Air had about as big of an ad campaign as you could wish for: Super Bowl advertisements, non-stop Winter Olympics ads, you name it. And yet…crickets.
Paramount+, on the other hand, seems to be able to get their shows to regularly rate in the streaming charts, like 1883 or any of the Star Trek spin-offs. As we move into the next phase of the streaming wars, if your streamer can’t launch hit shows, it won’t last. Right now, we know Netflix, Disney+, HBO/Max and Prime Video can. Hulu might. And it looks like Paramount+ can too. Peacock needs to figure out how.
Quick Notes on TV
– The big new show of the week is season 4 of Emmy award winner, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (TMMM), on Prime Video. I’m stoked for this data since this is one of those shows whose previous season came out in the dark ages (before the Streaming Ratings Era™), so we had no idea if it performed well or not. We had to guess. And now, with three days of data we can say…
It did fine.
First, the big caveat. Amazon has shown a willingness to be super flexible with release dates. The Wheel of Time, The Boys season 2 and now TMMM all got weekly or semi-weekly release schedules. Reacher, did not. So when you compare Reacher’s 30 million hour opening to TMMM’s 8.3 million it’s not apples-to-apples.
Though let’s not give it too much of a pass. This is a show that is loved by critics, and even loved by some fans, but doesn’t have a huge reach. (And yes, Nielsen’s ratings could be off, but I specifically asked for this series and they confirmed the numbers.)
For example, here’s the Google Trends:
On IMDb, TMMM has a very strong 8.7 rating on 104K reviews. That 8.7 number is just tremendous. TMMM has been renewed for a fifth and final season, so Prime Video might also be seeing some decay in the numbers too. Ultimately, this is a very well-liked show on Prime Video, but with a lower ceiling than some of their genre fare.
– Speaking of under-performers…season two of Space Force! When last we saw our gallant heroes of this sitcom, it was May of 2020. Back then, this Steve Carell/Greg Daniels helmed show delivered 20 million hours for two weeks in a row. But the buzz felt off. It currently has a 6.7 rating on 60K reviews. Which are fine ratings, but not “this is a future The Office” type of hit.
The latest season generated 7.3 million hours in its first three days of release, good for 23rd out of 31 season two launches in my data set. On TV Time, it had a three week run, which I’d call a “just fine” rating. I’d add, there is a chance the first season benefitted from the Covid lockdowns of 2020. If true, we’ll see that over the next few weeks.
– Inventing Anna joined the 40 million hour club, specifically with 54.3 million hours. So that’s an elite show, joining Shonda Rhimes’ other elite show, Bridgerton. as two top five series one launches of all time. If you expect me to be petty enough to compare Rhimes pay check to Ryan Murphy’s big payday, well you’d be right. (But in a future article for The Ankler.)
(One worry? It only has a 6.9 rating on IMDb on 38K reviews. That feels a bit low.)
– In follow up news, Love Is Blind had a big leap to 24 million hours. It also does well in the TV Time rankings. Meanwhile, Ozark, Sweet Magnolias, Raising Dion and Reacher continue their slides off the list:
– One weird outlier between Nielsen and TV Time is How I Met Your Father. HIMYF continues to rank on the TV Time charts, but not on Nielsen.
– In the acquired TV lists, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse made its first ever appearance on the rankings. Mickey Mouse is still the number one character for preschoolers. Just lock that in. I have no idea why MMCH made the list with 5.6 million streaming hours this week, but this is Disney’s strength. (Episodes are also available on Youtube and Disney Now, if you’re curious.)
– The Dog Not Barking of the week is now officially Dollface. Look, the show seems smart, but it missed all the rankings I track except for two (low) weeks on TV Time. Toss in a low number of IMDb ratings and I think it’s a miss. (Yes, IMDb skews genre, but not this much skew.) It’s like TMMM, but without the buzz or acclaim.
– I also have my eye on Severance. It feels buzzy, but it hasn’t made the TV Time rankings yet, and missed the Nielsen charts this week. With an 8.1 IMDb rating on 7.3K reviews, it seems well-liked and well-reviewed, but not very popular.
With only a horror film leading the way on streaming this week, let’s do a “kids films” check in. Encanto somehow increased its viewership week-over-week. It seems to be a rewatch monster (see datecdotes below). Meanwhile, the film list is filled with animated titles, as usual:
Here are the kids film released since Christmas on the services:
As I’ve mentioned before, the big theatrical titles (or titles that were clearly made intended for theaters) do seem to have an edge, like Despicable Me and Encanto. (The Ice Age Legend of Buck Wild is tougher to judge, as it feels a bit cheaper.) And of those Encanto is clearly number one.
Quick Notes on Film
– The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is Netflix’s latest top film. As a horror film, it did fine, getting 5.1 million hours viewed in its opening week, good for 75th place overall out of 143 films in my data set. Though it got the top spot one week, as most Netflix titles do, it only had a two week run on TV Time, which is a pinch low. In general, I think horror films have a lower ceiling than other types of content (action films, kids animation, super heroes, for example.) At 29 million hours globally in its first week, it didn’t have monster numbers either.
– When I first saw a Netflix film called Fistful of Vengeance, I thought, “Oh, the Jet Li martial arts film?” No, that’s Fist of Legend. So is this some foreign acquisition? No, it’s an American film, with a Dutch director, American writer, and Indonesian star that is a spin off of their series Wu Assassins from 2019. Don’t remember that one? Me neither. Fistful of Vengeance debuted to 3.1 million hours in its first weekend.
– On the TV Time Film charts, the biggest trend to note is that while many films fall off fairly quickly, Nightmare Alley—the Oscar-nominated thriller that’s tied with Dune as my favorite Oscar film (also those are the only two I’ve seen)—chugged along for a few weeks before falling off. It’s almost like comparing viewership in theaters to streaming makes no sense, because when something is free, customer consume more of it. That’s of course assuming classical microeconomics are correct.
– On the licensed film side, Netflix had two library titles make the list. One is a stinker (Blackhat, with a 5.4 IMDb rating) and one is actually okay (St. Vincent, with a 7.3 IMDb rating).
It’s time for my monthly check in on The Gauge usage (via Nielsen). As a reminder, we’re really monitoring this over the long term. February had a few wildcards, with the Super Bowl driving broadcast viewership but the invasion of Ukraine driving cable viewership.
Here’s the charts:
As I wrote in The Ankler this week, if streaming is winner-take-all, we’d expect to see Netflix grow its share over time. So far, we haven’t.
Datecdote of the Week
Here’s some surprisingly good news: Disney+ seems to be getting in on the Datecdote game!
First, they released this little gem on Encanto:
— Brandon Katz ☕️ (@Great_Katzby) March 14, 2022
(And fun bonus, they’re finally listening to me and adding sing-along versions to Disney+!)
Second, they told us that as well as Encanto performed, Turning Red—through three days—is actually besting it:
— Disney and Pixar's Turning Red (@PixarTurningRed) March 16, 2022
(Hat time to JamieM on Twitter for sharing.)
The only question is whether questioned if Turning Red’s data point means it was number one, or if that’s just the weekend. The folks at Samba TV said that 2.5 million households tuned in during its opening weekend (I’ll put that in context in four weeks), but that’s actually pretty competitive for top Disney+ series. So I’d guess this is an all-time record, but could just be the weekend.
Let’s hope that Disney ultimately goes the Netflix route and just provides us with data!
Next week, I expect that The Book of Boba Fett will fall off the list and we can check in on Disney’s latest weekly release. They also released a reboot of The Proud Family, and it seems to have gotten a strong ad campaign, if the commercials served to me are accurate. On the film side, I’m very curious to see how Netflix’s new Madea film performed.
Later this month, as I just hinted at, we’ll have the fun The Adam Project (starring Ryan Reynolds on Netflix) showdown with Turning Red (from Pixar on Disney+). I expect both will do well, but we’ll see.
Prime Video will also try to continue their streak of success with Upload later this month. (That run from The Wheel of Time to Reacher to TMMM to Upload to The Boys season three may be their best stretch ever. Speaking of The Boys, the latest season just released its trailer for its next season in early June. Looking at this week’s TV Time ratings, Prime Video actually takes the top two spots:
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