Since most of my readers are fairly devoted followers of the streaming wars, I bet most of you think this week’s biggest story is the titanic showdown between Turning Red and The Adam Project.
And you’d be wrong!
The bigger story “content”-wise in my mind—and I love to zig when others zag—is Prime Video
airing, er, streaming the 57th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards on Monday 7-March! This is a “first” as in the first “major” awards show to move to a streamer. That’s what I’d be writing about today…
…if I had the data.
Unlike other people who, in the absence of data, throw their hands up and say, “Well, we just don’t know and can’t ever know anything!” and then assume our benevolent tech overlords know what they’re doing, I’m still optimistic that I can find some data for this problem. Soonish. And if I do I’ll let you know. (Or I’ll explain why my data failed in this particular case.)
Meanwhile, yeah let’s do that other story.
(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 March 7th to March 13th.)
Before you use that lack of data for the 57th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards as indictment of my data process, consider this:
For the first time, I can leverage EVERY data source I collect on a viewership question.
Let’s start with the most consistent source of data, U.S. viewership from Nielsen. Turning Red debuted to 28.4 million hours, good for 4th place among the 148 first-run streaming films in my data set. The Adam Project debuted to 22.7 million hours, good for 10th place in my data set.
Here’s the comparison to other first run, early and Pay-1 films:
Although, when it comes to family or kids films, just because something wins the hours battle doesn’t mean more unique viewers or households watched it. According to Samba TV, The Adam Project bested Turning Red in their opening weekends, with 3 million households to Turning Red’s 2.5 million households.
Here’s the Samba TV data points for films with four days of viewership data:
Those are both U.S. numbers. In the global ratings game, we have Netflix’s popularity chart, where currently The Adam Project is 5th all time among films for Netflix, with 227.2 million global hours viewed, with a chance to pass Extraction next week. Disney didn’t provide a specific number, but told us that…
— Disney and Pixar's Turning Red (@PixarTurningRed) March 16, 2022
Coming on the heels of this other datecdote, maybe Disney is officially getting in the global datecdotes game! One can dream. (Sarcasm.)
So lots of hours, but what did customers think? Right now Turning Red has a 7.1 rating on 67K reviews, whereas The Adam Project has a 6.7 on 125K reviews. So slight edge to Turning Red for rating, with the caveat that kids films/shows can have low ratings for sometimes inexplicable reasons, and a slight edge to The Adam Project in total reviews, with the caveat that genre films get more reviews than kids titles.
Lastly, when it comes to interest, here are the Google Trends:
As for TV Time, literally the two films are tied, with four weeks in the rankings for 37 points each! (And they’ll both likely move up in the TV Time rankings as they hold onto the film ranks.)
Time to declare a winner. Turning Red takes Nielsen, Google Trends and IMDb rating. The Adam Project takes Samba TV and IMDb reviews. Let’s call datecdotes and TV Time a draw. So…
Honestly? It’s a tie.
Both films were popular, about about as popular as you’d expect for their given categories. And I’d say both were hits too, ranking in the top ten for all non-IMDb categories. So good job to both studios!
(Fine, some criticism? Both these films were likely expensive. Wikipedia has Turning Red as $175 million production budget and The Adam Project at $116 million. Both could have done fine to great at the box office, and probably still done great on streaming later. So financially money was probably left on the table.)
Quick Notes on Film
– Disney had four films on the Nielsen streaming film charts this week, between Disney+ and Hulu, but none from their library titles. In addition to Turning Red, they had Free Guy, West Side Story and Encanto make the charts. (Speaking of Encanto, it added another 13.1 million hours and stayed in the top ten. That’s what Turning Red will need to turn into a “mega-hit”.)
West Side Story is a pretty big disappointment, though, only getting 3.6 million hours in its second week, after getting 5.2 million in its first week. That’s tied for tenth place among “Pay 1” films—out of 20—through two weeks, but honestly, it’s just a fraction as much as say Free Guy, which did 25.2 million through two weeks. In this case, the box office pretty much lined up with future streaming performance.
– Speaking of Free Guy, it had a pretty big drop, down to 4.4 million after weeks of 17.1 and 8.1 million. For a film that grossed $121 million during the start of Omicron, I expected it to do a bit better than this—more like Shang-Chi’s 42.7 million hours through three weeks. But then again, in the same way West Side Story did a fraction of Free Guy’s box office, Free Guy did half of Shang-Chi’s box office ($224 million domestic box office).
– Further, Free Guy did pretty well in TV Time’s tracking, currently in tenth place with 5 weeks on the list for a score of 37. For comparison, Shang-Chi (2nd place overall) lasted for 13 weeks with a score of 80 and Red Notice (3rd place) lasted for 10 weeks with a score of 70. (I currently have 95 films in the TV Time data base.)
– The other interesting omission from the Nielsen data is Nightmare Alley. Nielsen told me that Nightmare Alley isn’t eligible as a streaming film (despite being on Hulu) as it premiered on HBO. It, too, had an okay run in the TV Time rankings, ranking 24th overall, right behind West Side Story at 23rd. You can see West Side Story’s performance in March:
– On the licensed films front, the only new edition this week is Coach Carter, the 2005 MTV films sports flick starring Samuel Jackson. It arrived on Netflix on 1-March, and earned 2.7 million hours viewed.
The biggest story on the TV side of the house was the return of two shows from “the Covid quarter”, my (new) unofficial name for Q2 of 2022. Prime Video debuted Upload, a speculative fiction comedy from Greg Daniels (of The Office fame) in May of 2020. At that time it netted 8.2 million hours in its second week. It debuted on 11-March this year to 7.4 million hours in its first week.
Netflix released season two of The Last Kingdom, a British medieval drama, whose fourth season debuted in April of 2020, with three weeks of top ten rankings of 13.4, 11.5 and 8.4 million hours. It’s fifth season debuted on 9-March and netted a good 23.7 million hours in its first week.
I’m tempted to try to draw some strong conclusion about these two shows, but can’t really do it. On the one hand, Upload is doing about as well as it did two years ago, if not maybe a bit better when it get the binge release curve bounce next week. The Last Kingdom should be a bit bigger than last time, but will likely see a big drop off into its second week. Neither seems to have really benefitted from the Covid bumps other 2022 Q2 shows saw.
So are either of these shows huge hits for their networks? don’t really think so, but want to see how they progress over the next few weeks.
Quick Notes on TV
– Of the previously released series, Pieces of Her had a big second week, a nearly 100% jump in viewership from 12.5 to 23.6, which is a good “binge release curve” bounce. (This bounce is the expected bump in viewership for a series released on a Friday on Netflix.) On the other hand, the docuseries Worst Roommate Ever—released on a Tuesday—had an expected nearly 50% decline. Inventing Anna held on for 13.5 million hours in its 5th week. (These type of holds for hit Netflix dramas are the best case against my “big series should debut weekly” hypothesis. How’s that for intellectual humility?)
– Meanwhile, Pam & Tommy and How I Met Your Father are both still on the TV Time charts, but never returned to the Nielsen charts:
But, showing the impermanence of any series in today’s day-and-age, Vikings: Valhalla, Inventing Anna and Space Force all fell off the TV Time charts this week.
– The surprise new appearance on the “acquired” TV charts is season four of Good Girls, the recently cancelled NBC series. It had an okay run last year.
– The Dog Not Barking of the Week is officially The Problem with Jon Stewart. The problem is probably just the volume of episodes and the fact that Apple TV+ doesn’t have a lot of people tuning in to start. (Though, obviously, that wasn’t a problem for Ted Lasso.) I would add, I noticed that its YouTube channel has, basically, the entire series for viewership? I mean, some of these clips are twenty or thirty minutes long, nearly teh whole episode. Basically, if you want your Jon Stewart fix, you don’t need Apple TV+, do you? And I’ve been surprised just how little conversation he’s generated in the news/social verse.
– I have a few other shows that I have my eye on for “dog not barking” status for next week.
– Netflix released a new season of Formula 1: Drive to Survive, a show credited by some (and I think this is wildly overstated) for saving Formula 1 in the U.S.. It failed to chart in its first week.
– Netflix also released The Andy Warhol Diaries, another project roughly in Ryan Murphy’s orbit, which failed to chart. (Fairly funny given my Ankler column this week! By the way, its free to read for all.)
– Apple TV+ released The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, with another big name in Samuel Jackson, though it is a weekly release.
– Disney+ released Weekend Family, a rare foreign kids friendly sitcom.
Time for a quick check in on how competitive the streaming wars are. Here’s the share of the Nielsen top 30. No real movements, though that means Netflix hasn’t regained its lead either:
Next week, we’ll probably head back to the Hulu “comedy” realm with Life and Beth. On the one hand, Amy Schumer is very funny. On the other hand, when Hulu makes comedies they…aren’t very funny?
In addition to that, WeCrashed landed on Apple, the Marvel series that originally streamed on Netflix came to Disney+, and The King’s Man and Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas’ not-very-erotic erotic-thriller Deep Water landed on Hulu.
Later this month, we’ll see just how little the Oscars delivered in terms of a viewership bump. We’ll also look at the deluge of foreign films landing on American streaming shores, because you may be surprised how, frankly, bad they are.
Longer term, I’ve already got my eye on Ms. Marvel at Disney+ in June. Someone pointed out to me that it’s debuting at the same time as Disney+’s Obi-Wan which has me asking all kinds of questions. Is this because Disney+ has so much in the second half of 2022 they need to start overlapping shows? Or are they burying it? The trailer looks good and Moon Knight’s initial data suggests that frankly every MCU series will do well. So I’m curious to see.
(As always, sign up for my newsletter to get all my columns, streaming ratings reports, and articles in your inbox.)