Who Was More Magical: Obi-Wan Kenobi or Ms. Marvel? And Foreign film Failures III: The Revenge of the Failures

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Did you know that the week of this report—remember, covering the week starting Monday 11-July—was “Shark Fest” on NatGeo and Disney+? This is, of course, very similar to the Discovery Channels’s much more famous “Shark Week”, which started the week of 25-July. I’m sure National Geographic channel just happened to come up with a nearly idea purely coincidentally.

Anyways, no shark content has made ratings this week. Instead, it’s time for a check-in on Disney’s last two big genre titles, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ms. Marvel.

(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 July 11th to July 17th.)

Television – Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ms. Marvel…Which Weekly Series Did Better?

Now that Ms. Marvel has officially closed out its run—the last episode debuted on Wednesday July 13th—we can compare both Ms. Marvel and Obi-Wan Kenobi and declare a winner. (Kidding.)

Obi-Wan Kenobi debuted on Friday 27-May and a scant two weeks later, Ms. Marvel debuted on Wednesday 8-June. I’d love to know the thought process behind this decision, given that, from the middle of July to the middle of August, Disney didn’t have a major series on the air. (The next one up is She-Hulk: Attorney at Law on 18-August as part of “Hot August Genre Wars”.) Likely, there were some production issues somewhere in the pipeline. (Maybe Obi-Wan Kenobi got delayed, but Disney wanted it to debut May.)

Still, putting these series back-to-back still seems odd, especially when Ms. Marvel could have moved out of a crowded June.

Anyways, on to the ratings. I already mentioned in previous reports that Ms. Marvel underwhelmed, missing the Nielsen rankings for two weeks, the first time that’s happened to an MCU series. Obi-Wan Kenobi, in contrast, had a strong start but then declined over time. Also, both of these series only had six episodes, so they can’t stand up to some slightly longer Marvel series. 

Here’s the comparison though eight weeks:

I added Hulu TV series to this data…and this seems like an indictment of Hulu, doesn’t it? Their biggest drama debut to date had the same viewership as Ms. Marvel, the worst performing MCU series. Not great. I continue to hold to my position on Hulu: when it comes to overall usage, they’re roughly second in the streaming wars, but that’s driven by acquired/day-after-air TV, not their Originals.

On TV Time, Ms. Marvel had a very slow start, before eventually topping out at a second place ranking, while Obi-Wan Kenobi stayed strong over time. 

Here’s how their scores net out:

Samba TV tells a similar story too, with Obi-Wan Kenobi out performing Ms. Marvel. Here’s its viewership numbers compared to some other recent June releases:

(Let’s talk Westworld. Only getting 915K households to tune in its the first four days feels low. Compare that to Stranger Things, which had 3 million households per episode. While we’re at it, though, that’s higher than Only Murders in the Building, whose second season debuted to 617K households in the first seven days.)

Finally, on IMDb, it feels like both of these series were “campaigned” against online for political reasons, so take their ratings with a grain of salt. Ms. Marvel has a 6.2, which is just too low to drive significant viewership. Obi-Wan Kenobi is better with a 7.1, but that trails bigger hits like Loki, which has an 8.2.

So…broader lessons for why Ms. Marvel didn’t soar compared to Obi-Wan Kenobi and other MCU series? As much as we like simple narratives, like most shows that fail, there isn’t one factor to explain this. To start, the character is still relatively new, even in comics, and not nearly as popular or famous as other marquee characters like Hawkeye, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Loki and especially Obi-Wan, especially since they all appeared in giant blockbuster films. Ms. Marvel also didn’t have any stars in it and the creative team isn’t particularly notable. (That said, I think Ms. Marvel—like Kate Bishop—will excel in future MCU team ups. Iman Vellani steals scenes.) There also could have been “MCU fatigue” as some people have mentioned.

One factor I haven’t seen other people mention: this show felt very “YA” to me, like a Disney Channel series, with high school drama and overbearing parents. Was that enough to turn off some comics fans, especially the casual MCU viewers? Maybe.

Finally, I’d add that June was competitive! Between Obi-Wan, The Boys and especially Stranger Things, maybe Ms. Marvel just got lost in the shuffle. Look at how strong the Original TV Top Ten Was this week:

The rest of this post is for paid subscribers of the Streaming Ratings Report, so if you want to know what foreign films do work on Netflix, whether Persuasion persuaded viewers to tune in, if Resident Evil is a flop, the “Dogs Not Barking” of the week, and more, please subscribe

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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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