Streaming Goes Linear with Thursday Night Football, Dancing with the Stars and the Kardashians

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Friend of the website Kasey Moore, of What’s on Netflix fame, on Twitter encouraged anyone who wrote “House of the Dragon vs. Rings of Power” comparisons to add Dahmer to their analysis.

Well, sorry Kasey, but I won’t be discussing Dahmer in today’s Streaming Ratings Report…because it’s getting its own deep dive next week!

This is a hits driven business and Dahmer is a hit. A huge hit. Expect a couple thousand words on Monday discussing who is winning the war for genre, Netflix’s hit-rate, and whether or not Netflix made money on their Ryan Murphy deal.

Instead, in today’s issue, we’re going back to broadcast. Or, more precisely, looking at the “broadcast-ization” of streaming. We have the latest week of NFL viewership, the debut of Dancing with the Stars, another season of The Kardashians, a few successful films on Peacock, and more.

(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 September 19th to September 25th.)

“Live” TV – The Broadcast-ization of Streaming TV with Thursday Night Football and Dancing With The Stars

Last week, I said it was a big deal that the NFL arrived exclusively on streaming. Yes, there was already football on streaming:

– Hulu Live TV has “sports” as all their commercials incessantly remind us.
– ESPN+, Peacock, and Paramount+ all stream football games.
– Prime Video shared Thursday Night Football with the NFL Network the last few years.

The difference? This season Thursday Night Football is only streaming on Prime Video.

I’d say it’s also a big deal—though not nearly as big—that Dancing with the Stars is now streaming live, weekly and exclusively on Disney+. That’s the first major broadcast competition show to arrive exclusively on streaming from a previous broadcast home.

So how did DWTS perform? We don’t know. Nielsen told me that DWTS is not eligible for streaming rankings. That’s a bummer, because I’d love to know if, in one week, it could crack the top ten or not. 

(Since the lowest ranked streaming original TV show this week was Stranger Things at 6.9 million hours, DWTS would need to have a lot of households tune in to crack the top ten. For example, if 3 million people tuned in for the two hour show, it still wouldn’t rate, even though it did well.)

Like the NFL, it’s interesting that Disney doesn’t own this show outright. It’s a BBC import. While Disney controls the U.S./linear rights, they don’t own it lock, stock and barrel, like say Modern Family or The Mandalorian. As such, Disney+ didn’t get streaming rights to past seasons, and only has one season available on Disney+.

That means the upside to Disney+ is really just this current season. And since last season streamed on Hulu, really, Disney+ essentially stole this show from Hulu. We’ll see if the gamble pays off financially.

Meanwhile, on the NFL front, we have our second data point: the ratings dropped down to 28.4 million total hours, according to my calculations, from 34.2 million last week. Overall, looking ahead, with more lower profile games coming up—every NFL team gets a Thursday night game—it looks like the ratings could drop even further in future weeks, maybe to the low 20 million hour total. In other words, the big 30 million hour plus debut may end up closer to the ceiling for Thursday Night Football games than the average. We’ll see!

The Streaming Content Halo

We do have one other fun story that relates to the “broadcast-ization” of streaming:

In a tradition as old as football itself, the streamers are leveraging the return of the NFL to launch other shows.

Prime Video, for example, released a new special from The Grand Tour. Wow, The Grand Tour is back? Where have you been? For those who don’t remember, Amazon previously touted this as their biggest debut back in 2016. But you can see that Covid-19 really slowed production, as they’ve only released five episodes since December of 2019. (This series likely also skews heavily to non-U.S. markets where Top Gear/The Grand Tour has never done as well as in the U.K.)

Meanwhile, Paramount+ debuted new episodes of SEAL Team, one of the broadcast shows they transferred over to Paramount+. Hey, do you like football? Here’s some Navy SEALs. (And yes, we won’t get ratings for it. C’mon Paramount+, let Nielsen release you ratings!) It’s done okay in the TV Time rankings, making it for three weeks so far:

This is one of the benefits of football. If you have a product that gets tens of millions of folks to finally tune into your streamer, use that to entice them to watch something else. That’s smart programming.

On-Demand Television – Hulu Plans a Big September

What streamer have I been more critical of content-wise in 2022 so far, Apple TV+ or Hulu? It’s gotta be Apple TV+. Their spending-to-success ratio is horrific right now. It might be the worst hit rate in the history of entertainment. 

But Hulu isn’t far behind. They had some of the most “dogs not barking” at the midway point of the year. And even though I said they quietly had a good summer, they still lag most of the other streamers—including their sibling streamer, Disney+—in terms of the top shows on the Nielsen charts for all of 2022. (And 2021.)

If anything will prove me wrong about Hulu, it’s September. For the week of 19-September, Hulu released both Reboot—a buzzy new show from Steve Levitan, the creator of Modern Family—and second batch of ten episodes for The Karshashians—a show Hulu claims is a global hit. Next week, they’ll have The Charli D’Amelio show and Ramy. And they also released the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale earlier in September! That’s a lot of high-profile content from Hulu.

But will any of it breakthrough? So far, it doesn’t look good.

Let’s start with The Kardashians. I called this a “dog not barking” candidate for the first half of 2022 because it never made the Nielsen charts. (For new readers, a “DNB” means any streaming film or TV show that fails to make any of the rankings we follow. Basically, a flop, bomb or a dud in the streaming era.) And its Samba TV numbers were merely fine. (Only 810K households for the debut episode though four days. Compare that to the 1.6 million who watched Inventing Anna.) 

But Hulu PR reached out to remind me that they had released a datecdote calling it one of their biggest global shows:

But again it never made the Nielsen charts! So it may have been popular round the world, but what am I to do with that here, in the U.S.? Where, presumably, most of their fans are?

To keep myself honest, though there is this Google Trends chart, showing that Hulu did indeed market the show well compared to past cable seasons:

In this case, I think the proof is in the pudding. We now have a second season of The Kardashians. So did it make the ratings?

Nope. And neither did Reboot.

I’m willing to give Reboot a pass. It’s only a half-hour show with one episode to its name. It would be incredible to make the rankings in its first week. But we’d at least like to see other positive data points, and right now Reboot only has a good 7.5 IMDb score, but on a measly 2.6K reviews. And it made the TV Time charts for three weeks so far (see above).

But The Kardashians doesn’t have any excuses to hide behind. This is supposed to be one of Hulu’s biggest shows. (Also, the show has poor IMDb scores, but reality shows tend to do that.) If it can’t make the rankings in its second season—and as a reminder Nine Perfect Strangers and Only Murders in the Building both made last year’s charts—I think that’s a sign Hulu doesn’t have a hit. To be more blunt, it’s not a hit by any publicly available metric, and the only metric that was positive came from Hulu themselves.

Moreover, Hulu can’t say this is “cheap” reality, since they paid at least a nine-figure total to get the rights! Right now, not only is The Kardashians a flop, with two seasons and a nine figure pay day, it’s going to contend for flop of the year. 

Quick Notes on TV

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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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