A Very Busy (and Buzzy) Week in the Streaming Wars: “Yellowstone”, “The Crown”, “Where the Crawdads Sing” and “Don’t Worry Darling” and More!

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When Nielsen published Peacock’s ratings for the first time a few weeks back, I held my breath. Sure, Peacock let us know that Halloween Ends did really well for them, but if you’ll remember, HBO Max once let Nielsen tell us that Wonder Woman 1984 was a huge smash on streaming, but then didn’t let Nielsen release another data point for 18 months!

Well, Peacock didn’t just let Nielsen provide one data point, they’re officially on the weekly ratings charts going forward, a point I probably should have emphasized more back then!

My gut is the powers that be at NBC-Universal saw that they had a really strong slate of theatrical films in Q4, and they let Nielsen keep releasing their Peacock streaming data to reinforce this narrative. For example, this week, their acquired title, Yellowstone—remember they bought the rights from Paramount—premiered on the acquired streaming charts after the newest season came out.

That’s enough of a streaming connection to let Yellowstone lead this report this week. Plus, we’ll talk about the ratings for the latest theatrical titles to come to streaming (Don’t Worry Darling and Where the Crawdads Sing), the “winner” of the genre wars, the debut of season five of The Crown, another NFL ratings fall, and more.

It’s a busy week so let’s get to it!

(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 November 7th to November 13th.)

Anecdata of the Week – Yellowstone Is Big, Big, Big

Yellowstone is a hit! I mean, you’ve probably already seen that headline, but it’s worth repeating: this show is a big, big hit!

And the data backs it up. On linear TV, across four networks and including repeat airings, it had 12.1 million viewers according to Nielsen “live or same day”. That climbed to nearly 16 million viewers in “live plus three days” of viewing. Samba TV said it was the biggest scripted debut of the year. (More on this number from them in a second.) And it propelled Yellowstone’s fourth season to twelfth place on Nielsen’s streaming ratings charts, even though season four came out on Peacock back in March.

On linear TV, the show remains a ratings monster. But besides the size, most importantly, those numbers are growing, season after season. That’s a feat only the most elite series pull off. Here’s the Wikipedia chart showing just live viewing:

With season five, it looks like the growth is slowing or plateauing, but given the growth of streaming/cord-cutting, even that’s unclear. In linear TV, “flat” is the new growth. I’d note, it has elite IMDb scores too, with an 8.7 on 139K reviews.

And for the first time in a while, we got Samba TV data for this debut as well. Samba TV reported that according to their measurements, five million households watched Yellowstone when it debuted, double House of the Dragon or five times Stranger Things, for example:

(As a reminder, Samba TV has also released three and four day viewership numbers for the series above, and those can be twice as big as the debut night viewers.)

You might be thinking, “Samba TV”, that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time.

Indeed, Samba TV hasn’t actually released a lot of data points in Q3 or Q4 of this year, but I emailed them about the lack of data points and they said they’ll be ramping up soon. In another twist, Samba TV is now doing what I think every ratings provider should do: providing regular, consistent data. Samba TV is providing The Wrap a weekly top ten list. I love this! (Though wish I had the data too…)

(The second thing you may think is, “Well, Samba TV’s numbers are half of Nielsen’s reported numbers.” And yes. That’s true. Samba TV’s numbers are lower than Nielsen’s, but this doesn’t bother me. To keep things apples-to-apples, I only compare data sources to themselves. So in this sense, I trust that Yellowstone probably is twice as popular on debut as House of the Dragon.)

To return to the streaming ratings piece, Peacock has to be pretty happy with getting 10.1 million hours of streaming viewing. (For just this week, mind you.) Peacock only has about 15 million paying subscribers, with some other number of ad-supported memberships that they don’t specify. But they’ve now had a film and a TV show make the Nielsen charts in the last month, which they probably wouldn’t have done last year. I expect Nope could make the charts too, along with some other Christmas movies. 

So don’t sleep on Peacock, just yet, from a ratings perspective.

Is Paramount+ kicking themselves for letting this show go? Surely, despite whatever paycheck NBC is paying. To make up for it, they’re leaning as hard into Tyler Sheridan—creator of Yellowstone—as possible, and on 13-November released Tulsa King with Sly Stallone from Sheridan. We won’t get ratings for it (c’mon Paramount+, let Nielsen release your ratings!) But it has made the TV Time ratings for two weeks so far. (See below.)

Television – House of the Dragon and Dahmer – Monster Basically Tied

Coming into this week, I thought this would be the last time I got to use the “genre wars” label, at least until 2024, when we’ll next get new seasons of HBO’s House of the Dragon and Prime Video’s Rings of Power. I’d hoped I’d be able to do a “final” run down of all the series since this little showdown started (including The Sandman, She-Hulk, Andor, HoTD, RoP and Dahmer – Monster) but who am I kidding? This won’t be the last time I write about these series. In particular, I still want to write—and you deserve!—a final “which show made the most money” article and that’s too long for one streaming ratings report. 

Anyways, on the ratings, as I have been pointing out, it really is a tale of two release strategies. Binge-released series burn bright, then fade, whereas the genre series stayed mostly steady through their runs.

Notably, unlike with WandaVision or Loki last year, we haven’t seen a weekly-released series really gain a lot of viewership steam so far. (The Mandalorian season 2 built up over time too, for the record.) She-Hulk actually had some build over its run, to be fair, but not like WandaVision.

So different release styles, but can we still compare them? As I wrote in the Ankler last week, we could do some math to try to make these more apples-to-apples, since Nielsen doesn’t include offline or linear TV viewing for House of the Dragon. Again, the battle isn’t to win the “streaming viewership” prize, but the “total viewing” prize. So I made some assumptions and here are both the Nielsen streaming numbers and my estimates for HoTD and Dahmer for “all viewing”:

There you have it, House of the Dragon narrowly edges out Dahmer – Monster in this accounting, but it’s close enough that with my assumptions it’s within the “margin of error” if you will. Meaning, yeah, it’s basically a tie. Thus the question comes down to which series cost more, since they both roughly “earned” the same amount. And figuring out costs has another series of assumptions that, again, make it worth its own article.

Quick Notes on TV

– For the last two weeks, Netflix has had a fairly strong run on the streaming ratings charts after the major genre contenders fell off. See this week’s “Originals” chart from Nielsen:

– The Crown returned for its fifth (and final) season the week of 7-November, debuting on Wednesday and netting 35.5 million hours, even with the extra days. With a slightly smaller “binge release curve” bounce, we could still see it hop into the 40 million hour club, though I would have expected it to do so this week. As a reminder, this show has fantastic IMDb scores (an 8.7 on over 217K reviews).


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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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