An Epic Film Weekend Helps Answer the Question, “Do Theatrical Releases Help or Hurt Streaming”

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Each week, as a little game to help double check my priors, my researcher/editor and I guess where new TV shows and films ended up on the Nielsen and TV Time charts. This week’s dialogue went something like this:

Me: Want to guess what film was number one film this week on Nielsen
Editor/Researcher: Oh, it’s gotta be Prey at number one.
Me: No, it’s Lightyear.
Editor/Researcher: Oh, wow. Crazy. Prey is in second place?
Me: No, Uncharted is.
Editor/Researcher: Oh, wow, even crazier. Then Prey came in third?
Me: No Purple Hearts. Prey is fourth.
Editor/Researcher: Wow. 

I agree with my editor; this is genuinely surprising, since Prey is Hulu’s most popular title to date. Yes, it did well, but based on the epic IMDb scores (Prey had something like over 50,000 reviews in its opening weekend) you’d expect the film to dominate. Instead it was “just okay”, though just okay is also “really good” for Hulu.

So let’s start there this week, looking at streaming films.

(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 August 1st to August 7th.)


This week is a big one in terms of settling THE question of the streaming wars:

Do theatrical releases cannibalize streaming viewership?

Multiple streamers released films that either could have been in theaters (Apple TV+’s Luck, Hulu’s Prey and Prime Video’s Thirteen Lives), or did go to theaters (Netflix’s Uncharted and Disney+’s Lightyear). And we can start to look at whether or not theatrical releases may have hurt (or helped?) streaming viewership.

And for some reason…they call came out in the same weekend!

A Kids Film Showdown: Lightyear vs Luck

You already know Prey didn’t “win” the week; it was another Disney title, Lightyear, which also collected $118 million in domestic box office:

The rest of this post is for paid subscribers of the Streaming Ratings Report, so if you want to know how a slew of streaming films performed, plus lots more on TV, 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.


Join the Entertainment Strategy Guy Substack

Weekly insights into the world of streaming entertainment.

Join Substack List
%d bloggers like this: