The Name’s Prime. Amazon Prime. And How Jame Bond Shows the Promise and Pitfalls of Streaming.

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This week was a bit light on new shows on the Nielsen charts. There was the usual volume of new releases, but the top ten lists were dominated by the genre fare we’ve been writing about since August. This is a testament to how big those shows really were. Meanwhile, the theme of the month for streaming films is, and will be, horror/Halloween.

But instead of scares, we’re talking spies this week…

(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 October 3rd to October 9th.)


The mini-dive in film this week is about one of the favorite things I’ve ever seen a streamer do…

…and how they almost immediately botched it!

This headline from Variety stunned me:

Starting 5-October, in honor of James Bond’s 60th anniversary, Prime Video put every James Bond film ever made in one place. Previously, I had said Prime Video would have to fork over a pretty penny to unwind all the Bond distribution deals over the years to get these films to do this. But they did it. I visited the site and Prime Video had rows of James Bond films sorted by actor. Every film in one place indeed!

(And for the “FASTs-bull” Crowd—those of us who want linear channels on every streamer—can you imagine a FAST channel with each James Bond title? Is that on Amazon FreeVee yet?)

This has been a hope of mine that someone would sort this out. As a child, TBS used to have “15 Days of 007” back in the 1990s, and my family always watched. (Thanks to Frank Pallotta for the fact check on this.) In the days of streaming, though, James Bond films had been scattered to the streaming winds. It was nearly impossible to find every Bond flick. Amazon, wisely, solved that customer problem and brought all the titles together in honor of James Bond’s 60th anniversary.

Well, they did for a month.

See, if you go to Amazon now, that James Bond page is nowhere to be found. At least I couldn’t find it. On Amazon’s search engine in particular! (And if you try to search for something for more than a minute and can’t find it, that’s bad search engine optimization.) By the time you get to the second page of searching for “James Bond”, Amazon starts recommending other Prime Video titles. See:

If you search “James Bond films”, some how Top Gun Maverick pops up on the second page!

I know our tech overlords can do no wrong…but seriously is this a good search result Amazon? Seriously? (“Why Search Sucks” is an informative read on this. Hat tip to one of my favorite podcasts, 99% Invisible.)

It seems like most every James Bond film is still available to stream on Prime Video, but at least some titles are not. Or they are, but they’re bouncing around like crazy. See, when I started doing research on this topic last week, a bunch of James Bond titles had left Amazon, including Casino Royale. But then this week, it’s back. But look!

It’s leaving Prime Video as of midnight Eastern tonight. Where’s it going? Netflix!

(But not their ad-supported tier!)

Anyways, when it comes to streaming ratings, none of these titles made the Nielsen charts, but I wouldn’t really expect them to, except for maybe the most recent James Bond, No Time To Die.

Grading this, I love Amazon’s customer focus, and I hope they can pull it off. They know customers want all these Bond films in one place, but the distribution and rights have been sliced up so many times over the years, that I worry Prime Video they just can’t really pull it off anytime soon. And since it’s Prime Video, of course they can’t figure out how to have one nice, neat, easily-searchable website to display all those movies. (It existed once, but I can’t find it for the life of me now!)

I’d also add: it will be interesting to see if they can add any Bond content in the future (and when). This year it looks like the only new Bond content was a film The Sound of 007 that didn’t make any of the ratings charts. (Nor would we have expected it to.)

Quick Notes on Film

– We had a few new releases this week. In the “non-Halloween” side of the ledger, Netflix released Luckiest Girl Alive, a drama starring Mila Kunis. It debuted to 10.8 million hours, which is in the middling range for Netflix nowadays. (That’s 45th out of 208 first run films in my data set.) This film got the coveted “Friday” release day, which I still think is intended for Netflix’s biggest releases (but I can’t prove that). I’d also note it got a limited theatrical release, as did a few other recent Netflix film titles recently. My hypotheses is that the limited releases are mostly for awards purposes, so films released from October on will get the prerequisite theatrical runs. Or maybe, just maybe, they’re testing out more films in theaters to build word of mouth. Either could be true.

– As I wrote all about on Monday, tis the season for Halloween films. Hulu released a reboot of Hellraiser. It earned 4.1 million hours viewed in its first weekend, which is about half of what Prey did for Hulu back in August, so we can see why this film didn’t get the coveted Hulu datecdote treatment. As for whether or not 4.1 million hours is good, I mean, for Hulu at least they got a film on the rankings chart! That’s rare for them!

As for whether it’s good, not really, compared to most Disney+, Netflix or Prime Video films. Yes, it’s horror, but still it’s not great. (It only has a 6.0 on IMDb on 23K ratings, so it’s fine.) And consider that Mr. Harrigan’s Phone on Netflix—released on Wednesday 5-Oct—debuted to 9.5 million hours. Interestingly, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is both a Blumhouse and a Ryan Murphy project. (And while I don’t usually mention it, I really like this film’s log line.) So actually let’s update our horror films table from Monday’s article:

So not bad! For horror. Sorry I keep making that disclaimer, but compared to big budget action films or Disney animated titles, clearly horror films don’t have quite the same streaming upside. The first four films on that ranking arguably aren’t really horror, but “slash” horror, as in family/horror (Hocus Pocus 2) and action/horror (Day Shift and Army of the Dead).

This is ironic, because horror is one of the categories that still seems to outperform their budgets at the box office. Barbarian was a word of mouth success ($40 million at the box office) and Smile did well too ($94 million). So could Hellraiser have made itself a nice chunk of money? Maybe, but then it probably would have had to been split with HBO Max a la Nightmare Alley and Death on the Nile.

This the key point, though, is that horror “performs” given its budgets. Everything in Hollywood is, still, about “return on investment”. A lower ceiling is bad for the “return” part of the equation. But if your “investment” is low—and Barbarian only cost something like $4.5 million to make, for example—than the return can be lower and still be worth it. You made your money back. 

Last in the Halloween-themed projects is Werewolf by Night, a MCU special (it was only an hour long) on Disney+. It missed the Nielsen rankings, but did make TV Time and has a 7.2 on IMDb on 44K reviews. I’ll be keeping my eye on this title. 

Hocus Pocus 2 owned it’s spot on the top of the film charts, though it had a fairly big drop from 45.4 million hours to 18.3 million. So it’s performing more like past MCU blockbusters than Disney’s rewatch-friendly animated titles. Hocus Pocus (the original) was down by more than 50%, as was Blonde. Meanwhile, we’ve seen a lot of turnover on the film charts, with no first run, pay-1 or early film released in the last six weeks lasting on the charts for more than three weeks. 


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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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