This week is the calm before storm, with the “storm” being the last week of the year “Streaming Sweeps Week”. For those who don’t know, historically, “sweeps” months were a time period where Nielsen collected paper diaries four times per year. Knowing this, broadcasters put on their best programming to drive the highest ratings to prove that they were the “best” network. (Yes, this seems kind of insane to me that you’d measure people on their best content and apply that around the year, but such was the thinking in the 20th century.)
That focus on “best content” is why the sweeps analogy is so apt. The streamers have three great reasons to launch big titles the last week of the year:
- It’s when customer receive new digital devices (tablets, smartphones and new TVs) for Christmas. When they turn them on, this can often mean setting up new streaming subscriptions.
- Customers have a lot of free time to watch shows and films.
- It’s the last week of the year, so the last time to add subscribers before the quarterly and mostly annual reports are published.
But it isn’t all sunshine and roses. Most folks are away from the office, so they check the internet less. Most news programs and websites take the last two weeks off for the year too. (I did!) That makes it harder to publicize new shows. Thus, historically, the broadcast networks and cable networks have avoided launching new shows during the last two weeks of the year.
The streamers know this too, so they strike a balance: they launch new shows, but usually only a few heavy, heavy hitters. (Except for Netflix. They always release a lot new stuff.) Since these shows are that important, I want to wait until I have two weeks of data to judge their performance. Plus, I have to run my analysis on who won the “streaming battle for Christmas” too. (Guess what? It was supposed to go today, but I ran long writing it up. Shocker I know.) So the plan is:
- Today, we’ll also look at The Bad Guys and a few of the big new TV series.
- Next week, I’ll write a special deep dive on “Christmas films”.
- And in the next Streaming Ratings Report, I’ll analyze the big “Sweeps Week” films and TV shows.
Sound good? Let’s dig in.
(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 19th to December 25th.)
Film – An Update on The Bad Guys
A few weeks back, when The Bad Guys showed up on the Nielsen charts in its third week of release it felt…odd. How/Why would a film become popular in its third week of release? (It came out the week of 31-October.) Well, this week, Nielsen confirmed they had a data collection issue, which can happen with their system that relies on capturing video data.
(I love this transparency. Admitting you made a mistake isn’t a sign of weakness, but trustworthiness.)
Either way, here’s the results: The Bad Guys topped the charts as the best movie in its second week of release, and only trailed Enola Holmes in its first week:
That said, since it came out on a Tuesday, The Bad Guys didn’t have an impressive run in terms of “viewership per day”:
Of course, the real question is how this stacks up to other animation films on streaming. Here’s that look:
Oh yikes. The second best animated debut, on Netflix, is again…a theatrical film. That they don’t own. I’ve said it about a hundred times, but seems like more evidence that even small theatrical runs (and concordant marketing campaigns) boost streaming ratings later.
(Reader may ask, “But what about Strange World?” And indeed we’ll discuss that miss next week. In this case, Strange World seems to be a genuine miss, whereas The Bad Guys is more liked by the target demographic, kids.)
Quick Notes on Film
– I’m tracking three main films for “sweeps” week: Paramount+’s Top Gun: Maverick, which I heard was a huge theatrical blockbuster, Netflix’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which I’ve heard is a star-studded sequel Netflix paid over $225 million for, and Disney+ would rather you forget their big film was Strange World. We’ll dig into the data next week, but here’s the film charts:
– For an idea for how these films will do, Glass Onion managed to take the top spot in the TV Time charts from Top Gun: Maverick. (So the latter film will have to comfort itself with its billion in box office earnings…) Netflix’s new release Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, an adaptation of the West End musical, did make the TV Time charts too, but missed Nielsen. (It was released on a Sunday, and most folks were watching Christmas films, so this isn’t a huge miss.)
– Overall, it was a light week, in terms of new film releases, outside of those heavy hitters I wrote about above. For “Dogs Not Barking” then, I’ll just confirm that Emancipation on Apple TV+, Bardo, False Chronice of a Handful of Truths on Netflix and Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again on Disney+ all missed in their second or third weeks of release as well. These seem like some pretty big misses overall.
Prime Video’s “sweeps week” content was the return of one of their presumably biggest shows: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. I say “presumed” because the previous season came out a whopping 3 years ago! In 2019! Before the “streaming ratings era” started. Jack Ryan has elite IMDb scores (8.0 on 138K reviews) and that helped propel it to the top of the TV Time charts.
That means for the first time in a few weeks, the new debut of the week belongs to a show other than Netflix:
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