A Battle of Three (Mostly) Comedies

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Before we begin, I just wanted to say, thank you. We just had one of our best weeks ever, and I couldn’t keep doing this work without your support.

In case you missed it, we published three articles on the “Dogs Not Barking” of 2022 so far, my term for flops, misses and bombs in the Streaming Ratings era. Read the definition of the term here, then check out the biggest misses on TV, then read a top ten list for worst films, then I ranked all of the streamers for The Ankler. 

(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, company datecdotes, and Netflix hours viewed data, Netflix Top Ten lists, Google Trends, Samba TV, and IMDb to determine the most popular content. While most data points are current, Nielsen’s data covers the weeks of June 27th to July 3rd.)


Arguably either the Stranger Things’ new episodes or Prime Video’s The Terminal List was a bigger story this week, but I want to start off a bit lighter, and hopefully funnier, so let’s look at the three comedies that debuted this week. 

– Hulu: Only Murders in the Building, season 2 released Wednesday 28-June
– Netflix: The Upshaws, season 2, released on Thursday 29-June
– Hulu: The Bear, season 1, released on Thursday 23-June

Fine, that last one may not be a comedy. I haven’t watched it yet, and I’ve seen it described as very funny by some people, but it deals with death, so it isn’t quite a comedy. Sort of like Barry. So let’s call it a dramedy, cool? How’d these shows do?

As you can see, our three little comedies all made the Nielsen rankings. Which is better than missing the rankings! But as the debut chart shows, these titles just aren’t in the same ballpark as Netflix or Prime Video’s genre titles.

Then again, it isn’t quite apples-to-apples to compare weekly releases—like Only Murders in the Building—to binge-releases like The Terminal List. The key goal for Hulu is for Only Murders to perform like other successful weekly releases (The Wheel of Time, The Boys, Only Murders season 1) and hold on the list for a few weeks.

As for The Bear, it’s officially Hulu’s best dramedy in terms of Nielsen rankings. Of course, that’s not a very high bar, since it’s also Hulu’s first dramedy to make the Nielsen rankings. Of all the season one debuts in my data set, through two weeks—remember it was released the week before—it ranks 110th place out of 144 in my data set. It also has a great IMDb score, with an 8.5 on 17K reviews.

That didn’t stop folks from proactively calling it a “hit”, as I pointed out in The Ankler yesterday. For example, in The Ringer

Calling The Bear a “hit” seems wildly unfair to a lot of other series with a lot more folks watching them. Compare it to Netflix’s The Upshaws, season 2, which debuted with 7.4 million hours. (Though, this is lower than its first season’s debut last year, when it got 9.3 million hours on 10-May-2022.) So if a show gets 2 million more viewers in fewer days, should it be the hit of the summer? To its detriment, The Upshaws only has an IMDB score of 6.8 on a measly 2.7K reviews. Meaning folks watched this show on Netflix, but they didn’t talk about it. This is the type of show that won’t generate “social” buzz.

(By the way, I could go further with the comps. I mean, Is It Cake had 27.7 million hours viewed in its first two weeks, but some pundits blamed that successful, and seemingly affordable, show as a reason for why Netflix’s stock fell last quarter.)

As I wrote for The Ankler a few weeks back, the streamers are probably making too many dramedies, and not enough actual comedies. Though, as The Upshaws and Only Murders shows us, the ceiling for comedies may just not be as high as big genre series, which is why the streamers aren’t aggressively pursuing them.

Quick Notes on TV

– The biggest series premiere of the week belongs to The Terminal List, Prime Video’s Navy SEAL revenge flick starring Chris Pratt, who helmed Prime Video’s big 4th of July film release in 2021, The Tomorrow War. Let’s do a little nuance making “on the one hand/on the other”. The good? It debuted to 18.4 million hours, good for 12th place among season ones in my data set, and the 3rd best debut for Amazon. 

Conversely, all episodes were binge released like Reacher, so it’s less comparable to some other Prime Video series, like The Wheel of Time from last fall. It has stellar IMDb score of 8.1 on 49K reviews…but it also entered the culture wars so that could be inflated. (And to keep my even-handedness, both sides of the political spectrum will “up vote” or “down vote” political content if they disagree with it, a bias I worry about when I use IMDb scores as a proxy for popularity.) The biggest worry for me is that the series has soft TV Time scores, so we’ll see how long it holds on the Nielsen rankings.

– The biggest returning series debut should be no surprise: Stranger Things 4 releasing two gargantuan episodes of 85 and 139 minutes a piece. Again, this thing is a monster, with 98.5 million hours over its three days. It literally doesn’t fit on my chart!

That’s the second highest single week total in Nielsen history. The Umbrella Academy had a strong second week of 37 million hours too, just shy of the forty million hour club. These two debuts likely helped Netflix boost their usage from around 6.6% to 7.6% in June. It will be interesting to see if they drop back down next week.

Also, I just have to point out that batching episodes really does seem to drive retention on Netflix. Maybe they should consider smaller and smaller batches?

The rest of this post is for paid subscribers of the Streaming Ratings Report, so if you want to know what Apple TV+’s latest failure, er, “Dog Not Barking” is, if Hulu’s The Princess resonated with audiences, whether Netflix is cutting back on content, how popular the Snyder Cut was, in spite of or because of Zack Snyder’s bot army, and more, please subscribe

We can only keep doing this great work with your support. If you’d like to read more about why you should subscribe, please read these posts about the Streaming Ratings Report, why it matters, why you need it, and why we cover streaming ratings best.

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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