This week is a “double” issue since I (finally) took a pre-planned vacation two weeks ago. That means we have two weeks worth of streaming data to cover. And it’s good we can take this time to cover the ratings, because it’s not like there’s been any other major entertainment news over the weekend.
Okay, okay, okay, I’ll write about that on Wednesday in my “Most Important Story of the Week” column for you to read during the long weekend.
The big “streaming ratings” news, though, was that Nielsen included Peacock for the first time in the rankings. (Want some trivia? Last year, How The Grinch Stole Christmas snuck onto the published Nielsen rankings, it was on Peacock at the time. But this is official official now.)
As a reminder, my Nielsen data is delayed by four weeks, so I’m looking at the weeks of October 13th through to October 23rd today. If this week’s report has a theme, it’s the deluge of horror content from all the streamers at the end of Halloween.
(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 10th to October 23rd.)
Film – Even More Horror/Halloween Films Make the Charts
What a surprise to see Peacock join the rankings this week! And like HBO Max and Apple TV+ before them, they used a big hit show to make their debut in the Nielsen charts. In this case, it was Halloween Ends, their last film in a trilogy of reboots to the long running (this was the 13th installment!) Michael Meyers Halloween series.
(As a reminder, a few weeks ago, I wrote a deep dive into every streamer’s Halloween offering. This week’s streaming ratings report provides some additional data on how the new Halloween debuts performed, but that article provides a more holistic look.)
Here’s how Halloween Ends first and second weeks stand up to past “Horror” films, a chart I revealed last issue:
Overall, at 18.4 million hours through two weeks, this is an aggressively mediocre opening overall, but pretty good for a horror film. But it disappointed in some other metrics, with only a 5.0 on IMDb (on 50K reviews) and more importantly only $64 million at the domestic box office. In this case, I think the dual release likely did hurt its total box office, but it’s tough to tell. In this case, I think there may have just been some sequel fatigue:
That said, this is still a horror film and the ceiling for most true horror films is just lower than other titles. (As I said last issue, arguably the top four “horror” films in my data set are more family/action/comedy than true horror.) If you’re Peacock, though, having any films vying for the same amount of viewers as a Netflix horror film has to be considered a win.
The other new spooky-themed title is The Curse of Bridge Hollow on Netflix. If I had to make an analogy, this is Netflix’s “Hocus Pocus”, a kids title that’s more “scary” than “horror”, but still obviously Halloween-themed. It debuted to 9.1 million hours on a Thursday release, then decayed down to 8.6 million hours, which isn’t great. Mr Harrigan’s Phone saw a similar decay, going from 9.5 million hours on debut to 5.0 million to off the rankings. Given other soft second weekends, I think horror films may not have quite the bounce as action titles. I’d note, with a 5.6 IMDb rating on a measly (for Netflix) 8.3K reviews, audiences didn’t love The Curse of Bridge Hollow either.
Horror films have mostly taken over the TV Time ratings, though you tend to see the rapid decay as on the Nielsen charts. Most films drop week-over-week, but the horror films seem a bit than some other big action or superhero films:
Of course, if a horror film misses, it misses big. Hulu had two horror films fail to make the Nielsen rankings or the TV Time rankings. Grimcutty came out on a Monday and still missed the charts. To show how small it was, even the week it was released, it still didn’t have a Wikipedia page. That’s just PR 101 to have Wikipedia pages for your films! Matriarch, another horror/thriller title, also missed the charts.
If I hadn’t moved these two titles up here, they would have shared the “dogs not barking” title of the week. Notably, when it came to their Halloween landing page (“Huluween”), Hulu went out of their way to push/prioritize these two films over older, much more popular horror titles, as I noted in my Halloween deep dive. Given that one film has a 4.4 on IMDb and the other has a 4.3…that seems like a mistake. If I were Hulu, I’d try to recommend TV shows and films that my users want to watch, regardless of whether they’re Hulu Originals.
Quick Notes on Film
– The biggest non-horror premiere of the last two weeks of streaming ratings (remember, the weeks starting 10-October and 17-October) was The School for Good and Evil from Paul Feig. The Harry Potter-esque pitch is that two girls go to magic school future fairy tale heroes and villains. It looks expensive and it’s long (147 minutes), so why didn’t this go to theaters? It debuted to 17.6 million hours which is fine, but it also debuted on a Wednesday, so that’s a bit on the low end given its length.
– Netflix did have another first-run film make the list, Blackout. It stars Abbie Cornish and Josh Duhamel and made the rankings for 4.4 and 3.2 million hours. It has a truly epic 3.8 IMDb score on 3.4K reviews, which does make you ask, were those 7.6 million hours worth it? (Dude, we’ve had some really terrible IMDb scores this week so far!)
– As for shows released in previous weeks, Luckiest Girl Alive and Last Seen Alive had typical second week drops in terms of viewership per day:
– As for “library titles” (films that are older than two years old) we had a few make the rankings, including another Universal/Dreamworks animated title, Megamind at 4.1 million hours. It was joined by Dracula Untold, a 2014 films starring Luke Evans, the guy from Beauty and the Beast and Fast 6. To its credit, Dracula Untold has a 6.2 on IMDb on 197K reviews. So not great, but not bad either!
– Hulu didn’t just have horror films as the “dogs not baking” of the week; Rosaline, a twist on Romeo and Juliet, starring Juliet Dever of Booksmart fame, also failed to make the charts. It has an okay 6.6 on IMDb (on a small 5.4K reviews), so maybe it could have found the audience, but this 20th Century Fox-branded-title didn’t.
Television – Netflix’s Subtly Evolving Release Strategies
Some folks disagree with me, but I really do think Netflix has been more aggressive in 2022 with changing or modifying their release schedules of their TV series. They’re being more flexible, playing around with what day of the week to debut new shows and how many episodes come out at a time. While none of these changes are “firsts”, they are happening more often.
Take The Watcher, Ryan Murphy’s second series in as many months, after Dahmer – Monster. (Oh, by the way, Dahmer – Monster was renewed for two more seasons. So whoever re-ups Murphy’s overall deal will need to factor in him making those two seasons.) Like Dahmer, it came out on a Thursday. That’s two series in a row! Sure, their content calendar is crowded, but after the success of Dahmer, if Friday really was the optimal day to release TV shows—something Netflix has told us for years now—then presumably this should have come out on a Friday. So clearly releasing top shows on Fridays is not the be all, end all.
It did well either way, with 39.3 million hours its first week up to 43.3 million in the second. That second week is good for the 23rd highest single week since 2021, and also enough to join the “40 million” hour club:
The rest of this post is for paid subscribers of the Entertainment Strategy Guy, so 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.