I spent the last week deep in the “data trenches”. (For those curious, the data trenches are next to my Excel bunker.) I updated my estimates for U.S. streaming subscribers for each streamer, the most “apples-to-apples” look I think you’ll find for US subscriber counts in America. Then, yesterday, I updated my quarterly ranking of the top streamers at The Ankler.
And today, we have another double dose of streaming ratings for the weeks of 5-December and 12-December. If a double dose of streaming ratings sounds like a lot, it is, and it only got worse because the first two weeks of December were among the busiest two weeks I’ve ever seen for new streaming titles. I tracked over eighty new TV shows and films over these two weeks, only the third time that’s happened.
So let’s dive right in. We have data on The Recruit, Black Adam, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new show, The White Lotus finale, and more. But we’re starting with some check-ins on long-running TV shows, like The Crown, Andor and The Great British Baking Show.
(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 December 5th to December 18th.)
Television – A Few Streaming Ratings Check-Ins
For obvious reasons, most weeks, I focus on on big, splashy new releases. In streaming, especially binge-released streaming, shows tend to make their headlines in the first two weeks. But not always. Over the fall, I made a few notes to myself to check in on some other TV show whose debut weeks didn’t tell the whole story. Today, we catch up on those titles.
The Crown Season 5
Let’s start with The Crown, a strong performer for Netflix over the years. Season 4 came out in 2020, and it stayed on the charts for over 27 weeks, an incredibly long run for a streaming show. The question I asked when season 5 debuted was, could it match that epic run? My thesis was it wouldn’t, simply because it’s a more competitive time to stay on the Top Ten charts.
Here’s the key comparison between seasons 4 and 5:
Now, The Crown season 5 may stay on the charts, but based on the downward trend, I doubt it comes anywhere close to season 4. Again, I don’t think this shows anything more than some natural decay for The Crown, and that the streaming wars are a lot more competitive now.
Andor Season 1
Andor, I don’t know what to do with you. Well, I’ll tell you what I may do, which is rewatch the whole thing again; that’s how much it scratched every Star Wars itch I had. And folks agree with me: it has an 8.4 on IMDb on 108K reviews, trailing only The Mandalorian (8.7 on 450K+ reviews) as Disney’s best rated series on that site. (Loki is third with 8.2 on 302K reviews.)
But my personal opinion and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee. Did Andor do well? In terms of, you know, actual viewership? Well, it’s complicated.
In total viewership, it is Disney’s fifth highest season one/limited series in terms of total hours (77.4 million hours), trailing The Falcon and Winter Soldier (TFatWS, 78.6 million hours). But Andor had 12 episodes where as TFatWS had only 6. Here’s the weekly viewership charts:
Here’s the weekly growth charts:
My gut is that in a crowded fall TV season—and note TFatWS came out in early 2021, when lots of shows had been delayed by the pandemic—after a big, three-episode debut, Andor took a moment to gain an audience, but it built up over time. As a reminder, that’s the goal for a weekly series: increase viewership over time. We’ll see if it has a big season two debut, or if falls into the category of “beloved but not popular”. Overall, Andor is one of the biggest question marks in the streaming era for me.
The Great British Baking Show Season 859 (er 13)
The latest season of The Great British Baking Show debuted on 16-Sep, and lasted for 11 weeks on the charts, another good run from a show that usually does well on the Nielsen rankings. Like The Crown, though, it’s down from previous seasons, likely due to increased competition. (Season 12 lasted for 16 weeks.)
Here’s a comparison of its previous seasons:
Tulsa King Season 1
Paramount+ is still the only “major” streamer that doesn’t let Nielsen publish their streaming data. Sigh. Tulsa King—the Sly Stallone gangster series—seemed a pinch underwhelming on its debut, but it had a very solid run on TV Time. It currently has an 8.3 on 23K reviews on IMDb right now too, which is great.
Here’s how it’s run stacks up to other top shows in November and December on TV Time:
(This look is for the top ten series by total ranking on TV Time though the start of November to the start of January, so a little longer than my usual five-week ranking.)
As I mentioned last week, between 1923, Criminal Minds and SEAL Team, Paramount+ had a very solid Q4.
The White Lotus Season 2
The White Lotus’ sophomore season finished its run on premium cable. It had a huge bump in streaming ratings, going from 6.8 hours of viewership in its fourth week of release, up to 15.0 million hours during its finale week; we don’t usually see gains that big. The White Lotus is now HBO’s self-reported fourth best series since about 2019 when they began leaking these things, right behind Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon and Euphoria, and just ahead of The Mare of Easttown.
That’s a strong turnaround from season one, as HBO’s own data indicates. Two summers ago, I thought season one was the sort of show everyone buzzed about but no one actually watched, and the data backed it up. But season two turned the buzz into actual audience. (It has a 7.9 on IMDb on 120K reviews, just shy of elite.)It also shows the power of the “conversation” for a weekly-released TV show, since the finale episode got 1.1 million same day households to tune in, according to Samba TV, which is up 43% from the premiere.
Quick Notes on TV
– Am I not leading with Harry & Meghan partially because I just don’t really understand how they’ve managed to eke out this much interest from their royal family connections? Probably. But go with what works! Their 60 Minutes interview got great ratings. So did their interview with Oprah last year. Their Netflix show, meanwhile, netted 21.1 million hours in its first week, and 28.2 million in its second, still good for the eighth highest debut on Netflix through two weeks! Here’s how well it did in “viewership per episode”, since Netflix is releasing three episodes at a time:
It did well on Samba TV’s same day metrics, getting 915K viewers on its first day:
– For the week of 12-December, we had a few new shows come out and make it on the Nielsen charts. Hulu’s latest FX-labeled Original is Kindred, about a modern day woman who gets transported to a slave plantation. It debuted to 6.0 million hours which is good for Hulu, since it’s their first season one to make the rankings since The Bear in June.
The caveat is that this show was binge-released, and other Hulu shows—like The Bear, Only Murders in the Building and Nine Perfect Strangers—made the rankings and were released weekly. Obviously, a weekly show making the top ten is more impressive than one with all eight episodes. I’d add, Kindred has fairly low number of IMDb review for a show on the Nielsen charts, only at a 7.4 on 2.2K as of this writing.
– Also making the charts the week of 12-December were Netflix’s The Recruit and a rare kids show, Sonic Prime! The Recruit has a 7.5 on 22K reviews right now, but that was good for 15.4 million hours, which I’d say is a bit on the low side. That’s good for 29th place out of 198 season one debuts in my data set, or about a 15th percentile show. As for Sonic Prime, it definitely doesn’t hurt that the Sonic films have been doing phenomenally well. This is also a reminder that Paramount is renting those film rights, which are owned by Nintendo (via their Sega subdivision).
– There are three other new releases that missed the Nielsen charts, but showed up on TV Time, so they barely escaped a “Dog Not Barking” fate. First, Doom Patrol is on HBO Max, so it’s eligible for the Nielsen rankings, though its never made the Nielsen rankings, but it’s always done well on TV Time. Paramount+’s latest Yellowstone spinoff, 1923, has dominated the TV Time charts on the other hand. It also has a very, very good 8.8 on 8K reviews on IMDb. Meanwhile, Disney+’s National Treasure spin-off TV show “Edge of History”—that’s being released weekly—currently has a 5.0 on IMDb on 5.1K reviews. Looking at its IMDb review distribution, it clearly has been the subject of an online campaign. Still, it has treaded along the bottom of the TV Time charts, never getting above 9th, so we’ll see if it makes the Nielsen charts after enough weeks.
– For returning shows, the big title was Too Hot To Handle season 4, a dating competition reality show. Historically, THtH hasn’t quite matched Love Is Blind, and Netflix probably didn’t do this title any favors by releasing it in only two batches, as opposed to the three batch release it’s used for other TV shows. It made the charts in its second week (a bad sign) and only to the tune of 7.1 million hours (also low). Compare that to season three of Love is Blind, which netted 71.4 million hours in its first four weeks.
– Another thing I don’t want to downplay is the fact that, yes, the biggest show on TV is still Wednesday. And not by some small margin. I do have a “new show” bias in this weekly report because writing “Wednesday is the king” each week would get a pinch repetitive. (This would have applied to Manifest Summer, Squid Game Fall and Stranger Things June too.)
One more thing. Netflix announced Wednesday’s renewal about an hour before I published last week, so I called it? Amazon was never gonna be able to steal that show back.
– Over on the “Acquired” charts, Netflix only had three shows make it, which is tied for their lowest share of that top ten list. The main culprits are Yellowstone and The White Lotus. I’d add that I accidentally labeled Criminal Minds as “Netflix” last week, even thought I wrote about it being on Hulu and Paramount+. I’ve fixed that!
– There’s a number of “Dogs Not Barking” (my term for the biggest flops and bombs that don’t make any ratings each week) candidates for the week starting 5-Dec. My “winner/loser” of the week goes to the third season of HBO Max’s Gossip Girl. This show, which is based off popular pre-existing IP, should be doing better for them, but it missed TV Time and Nielsen charts so far this year.
– Other candidates for the week of 5-Dec include HBO Max’s South Side, a comedy rescued from Comedy Central, and Apple TV+’s Little America, an anthology drama about immigration. We normally don’t shout out foreign-language titles as DNBs, but the second season of Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area didn’t make the charts, despite combining two previously successful things for Netflix: one of their biggest foreign-language titles (Money Heist) and one of their most successful countries at launching foreign-language hits (South Korea).
– For the week of 12-Dec, Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge, a baking show inspired by Dr. Seuss came out on both Prime Video and Freevee, and still missed the charts. This is an interesting strategy to maximize viewership, though it makes less sense for Prime Video as an acquisition tool, if folks can get this show for free as well.
– Other DNBs on the TV side for this week include two Netflix reality shows, Dance Monsters: A Dance Competition and Cook at All Costs, the fourth season of the adult animation show, Paradise PD (also on Netflix), Peacock’s Baking It, a cooking reality show that feels like a half-measure with only six episodes, and the reboot of The Game on Paramount+.
Despite the deluge of new content, no new “first run” streaming films really broke out. (See below.) So let’s look at the latest theatrical underwhelm, Black Adam.
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