Top Gun: Maverick and An The Oscars Streaming Bump?

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Since I released my giant “Future of Film” series “The Data is In: Theatrical Films Massively Outperform Straight-To-Streaming Films” last week—it’s now officially our top article of all time!!!—I had to skip the Streaming Ratings Report last week. 

But that’s good news for you as you’ll get a double issue of streaming ratings this week.

You’ll notice that this entire issue is free, something I haven’t done on a Streaming Ratings Report since I put up my paywall. (And the Streaming Ratings Report has definitely evolved and improved over the last year.) I think each issue is chock-full of good streaming information, especially the sections at the end. (Warning: This report is about two pages longer than normal.) 

If you want to support my writing, consider becoming a paid subscriber. The more subscribers means the more resources I have, which means more and better data analysis, which means more subscribers which means…oh my, I just described a flywheel. And you know how I feel about those

On to this week’s streaming ratings, including Top Gun: Maverick, two 2023 Netflix films with the same name, a look at how the Oscar’s (didn’t) drive streaming ratings, You season four, Part II, the share of Nielsen viewership since 2021, and more. 

Since I’m covering two weeks of streaming ratings, this thing goes long…

(Reminder: The streaming ratings report focuses on the U.S. market and compiles data from Nielsen’s weekly top ten viewership ranks, ShowLabs, TV Time trend data, Samba TV household viewership, company datecdotes, and Netflix hours viewed data, Google Trends, and IMDb to determine the most popular content. While most data points are current, Nielsen’s data covers two weeks of data, from March 6th to March 19th.)

Film – Top Gun’s Debut On Streaming…What Does it Mean?

I slipped in a little clue in last week’s article, “Theatrical Films Massively Outperform Straight-To-Streaming Films”, that many folks may have missed:

“I should also point out: two of the biggest theatrical titles of 2022 are NOT on this list. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever showed up on Disney+ in Feb-2023, and we don’t have data on Avatar: The Way of Water yet, since it’s due out in a few weeks.”

I said I was missing two of the biggest films of 2022, but I didn’t mention Top Gun: Maverick, which came out on Paramount+ during Christmas, even though Paramount+ didn’t let Nielsen release their weekly ratings data at the time. 

But after Paramount+ made the charts two weeks ago, I asked Nielsen for Top Gun: Maverick’s ratings and they obliged with four weeks of Top Gun: Maverick data. Ready?

24.4 million hours through four weeks isn’t ground breaking, is it? For context, that’s only the 16th highest launch of any Pay 1 film in my data set, out of 45 films. If Top Gun: Maverick was a first run title, it would be the 52nd highest opening, sandwiched between Netflix’s Lou and The Unforgivable. (A shiny gold coin to any reader who can confidently say they remember both of those films.)

Indeed—and while I promise I won’t reference my “Future of Film” series too many times today, but I’m lying to myself when I write that—this underperformance for Pay 1 films actually brought the average performance DOWN for theatrical films when looking at either 2022 or all films since 2020. Top Gun: Maverick hurt my case that film should go to theaters to help streaming! (Well, not the average box office per theatrical film. It helped balloon those averages…)

The explanation? Paramount+! It’s much smaller than other streamers right now. I estimated it had about 25 million subscribers as of last October, and it still is probably only around 30 million now. So here’s how Top Gun: Maverick compares to the “smaller” streamers—meaning not Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ since 2021:

So Top Gun: Maverick was…a Prey sized hit? I mean, a ton of folks called Prey a smash hit, but I never really bought that narrative. Instead, I think between a long theatrical run, a long home entertainment run, and even appearances on cable (it bowed on Epix on 22-December as well), lots of folks saw this before it made it to Paramount+.

Looking forward, the growth (or not) of Peacock and Paramount+ films will be a leading indicator for the trajectory of those platforms. If they start to match Prime Video, Disney+ and, heresy of heresies, Netflix, in terms of viewership, it will like portend big things for their future.  Either way, I’m glad that Nielsen and Paramount let this data out of the vault. More data is better data, so thank you!

Film – Do Oscar Nominations/Wins Help Drive Streaming Viewership?

Whenever Oscar nominations season rolls around, the nominations naturally drive interest for the films that get nominated. This feels obvious; some folks, like me, want to see as many Oscar films as possible, so when the nominations are official, folks go out to see those films. 

But is this ratings uptick meaningful?

Yes and no. (Yep, Entertainment Nuance Guy is back.)

Let’s start with the positive case. You get someone like Netflix—who has a weekly streaming viewership chart—still figuring out how to make the positive case for their Oscar-bait with an obscure datecdote:

(Thanks to Netflix Reviewed for the spot!)

That sounds good! They also made a vague case in 2021 that Oscar nominations boosted viewing, but didn’t tell us the actual viewership totals. (Say viewership was boosted by 100%, meaning a small movie went from 50K hours viewed to 100K hours viewed, a tiny number, is that good? Not really…) This year’s datecdote has the same problem: we have no frame of reference for whether 150 million hours viewed is good or not for an Oscar title. I mean, we know some global titles generate that on their first week of release, but does this show a strong hold or average? We don’t know. Hence a great “datecdote”.

The best way to show the uptick in interest comes from the “How do I watch this film?” apps, like Reelgood, TV Time and Just Watch. Here’s Reelgood’s analysis on the boost in interest:

Here’s the TV Time chart from that weekend, showing Everything Everywhere All At Once, Top Gun: Maverick and Triangle of Sadness all making the chart the week of the Oscars:

Finally, Just Watch showed the biggest impact of the Oscars on their metric. Here’s their charts for February as a whole, showing domination by Oscar films:

The first seven titles on their top ten list are Oscar nominated films! See, the Oscar nominations do drive interest!

Now are you ready for the cold water? Here’s the Nielsen viewership for that week:

That’s right, throughout the weekend when the Oscars aired, despite the uptick in interest, the Oscar films didn’t actually displace more popular movies. (I’d add that, throughout February, no Oscar films made the charts either…) We did see some films make the Plum Research charts on Prime Video. The lesson here is, like CODA last year, winning the Best Picture probably helps:

…but still with pretty small numbers. I mean, those are impressive TVOD numbers—that means 2 million unique viewers bought Everything Everywhere All At Once according to Plum Research—but still it’s small in the grand scheme of things. (Interestingly, Women Talking is tied into MGM via United Artists Releasing, so Prime Video made it free for just Oscar weekend.)

Now some of this analysis isn’t fair. Everything Everywhere All At Once stayed on Showtime, so it’s unclear if that viewership is included in Nielsen’s tracking. (I don’t think it is.) Avatar: The Way of Water hasn’t come out on streaming yet, and Top Gun: Maverick had likely been seen by everyone already before it got nominated for Best Picture. But still, the smaller Oscar films just don’t see a huge lift on streaming. (At least, not enough to justify the expense spent on marketing campaigns for Oscar nominations.)

Here’s another way to show that, this time with Samba TV. Note: they’re using lifetime viewership which biases towards films that have been out a long time (like Elvis): 

This chart sort of bugs me, since it’s mixing different time periods and streamers, and has no comparison to last year but…the more popular films are just more popular. Meanwhile, the Oscar bump seems…fine.

I took a victory lap back the week of the Oscars, and I’ll trot a lap again. Nominating more popular films (Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water were blockbusters; Elvis and EEAAO were popular) helps drive ratings, and we saw that again:

Quick Notes on Film

  • We had two new releases make the charts for the week of 6-March, Luther: The Fallen Sun on Netflix (debuted to 15.0 million hours, then held steady to 14.3 million) and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (6.4 million hours, then 7.3 in week two). So the win goes to…Luther, I guess? On IMDb, Puss in Boots actually wins with a 7.9 on 116K reviews, surprisingly good for a kids film, to Luther’s 6.4 on 44K reviews. (Though Puss in Boots 2 has been out longer.) Really, this says more about the size of the two platforms than anything else, and I can’t wait to see the numbers on Puss in Boots: The Last Wish when it comes to Netflix in about 3 months. My guess is it does about The Bad Guys numbers. Both films had three-week runs on TV Time.

  • Hulu got a rare film title on the list as well, Boston Strangler, a period piece about the famous serial killer in…Boston, starring Kiera Knightly. It is on the low end of all films—with only 3.4 million hours—but that’s about right for Hulu titles. It was joined by Money Shot: The Pornhub Story, which also felt low with only 4.1 million hours.

  • The two longest running titles on TV Time are M3GAN and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which have both had good runs. The other story with TV Time—and I don’t include all library titles in the chart below—is the return of older films with theatrical releases. All three John Wicks made the list one week and both Creed films made the charts another week. Shazam! also made an appearance on HBO Max. So sequels (particularly theatrical releases) definitely drive interest in older titles.

  • For the legacy titles, Minion: The Rise of Gru is on its sixth week on the charts, which is a pretty good run, though animated titles tend to last longer than adult titles.
  • With two weeks of film data to review, we saw a lot of library titles across the Showlabs and Nielsen charts. These include Turbo (a Dreamworks title from 2013), The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Rango, Burlesque (a Cher vehicle form 2010), Kick-Ass 2, Scary Movie, and Riddick (the Vin Diesel film from 2013). But the big winner was Dragged Across Concrete, a 2018 Mel Gibson/Vince Vaughn action film that barely got a theatrical release. In this case, I think it performed a bit like This Is Where I Leave You from last report (Just a heads up, but last week, I accidentally called this movie “This is Where They Leave You”), in that name recognition was so low a lot of folks checked it out on Netflix because they recognized the stars, but not the film. (I’m officially calling this the the “video store” effect.”)Also, if you want to know why Disney green-lit a Moana live-action film, it’s on the film charts again. (With Encanto.)
  • Nielsen specifically called out Chris Rock’s stand-up special as the largest on streaming to date, with Selective Outrage getting 13.3 million hours in its second week. Nielsen provided us with a list of the top five comedy specials of all time. It was also the top film on Netflix according to Showlabs, with 10.9 million unique viewers in its second week, up from 5.0 million in its week one debut. In total, five stand-up specials have made the charts since Nielsen started releasing their top ten lists, though they count stand-ups as “Original TV” which makes it hard for them to make the charts. For example, the special Razzle Dazzle starring Bert Kreischer or Netflix missed the charts this week.

  • Also, Disney+ had two concert specials—Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming with Dave Letterman and Miley Cyrus – Endless Summer Vacation—and both missed the charts. See, it’s tough for specials out there!
  • The “Dog Not Barking” for the week of 6-Mar on the film side is Disney+’s Chang Can Dunk. On the plus side, at least Disney+ timed this film’s release (and later this month, The Crossover) to coincide with the NBA playoffs, unlike Rise last year. On the other hand…yeah, I really need to do a deep dive into basketball films and TV shows to see if they’re popular! I don’t think they are, and I’m saying as someone who’s subscribed to at least five NBA podcasts.
  • Again, I’m a bit afraid that I’m going to start sounding like a broken record, endlessly repeating myself that many, many films should to go theaters, but Netflix’s latest kids animated title, The Magician’s Elephant, failed to make the charts, so I just have to ask: why didn’t this go to theaters? Now, this title doesn’t seem as expensive as other animated films (doesn’t look cheap though) but seeing as there’s a six month window right now between Puss and Boots: The Last Wish and Elemental with exactly one family film (The Super Mario Bros.) in between, I have no idea why this didn’t go to theaters. Interestingly, when folks blame the “studios” for skipping theaters, Netflix never gets the same criticism…
  • Also, strange note, but in January, Netflix released Noise, a Netflix Original from Mexico/Argentina. Last month, they released Noise, a Netflix Original from Belgium/Netherlands…have we officially run out of titles? (I only caught this because I’m alway double checking new releases and this popped up as an error.) Neither made any charts I track, and have very, very, very low IMDb scores (under 500 for the former title; under 1.2K for the latter).

Television – Hulu’s Confusing Release Schedules

Hulu continues to baffle me. After sometimes going weeks with out a new show, they then put out two new shows in the same week. The week of 6-March, they released both UnPrisoned and History of the World Part II in the same week. They binge released UnPrisoned on a Thursday, but released History of the World Part II two episodes a day for four days. Fortunately, the latter did make the Nielsen charts:

To their credit, both shows at least seem to appeal to broader audiences, since they are comedies, though I’m sure UnPrisoned touches on some deeper themes. History of the World Part II leverages the brand recognition and a lot of recognizable comedy actors too, but note that it didn’t make the charts for a second week. So another buzzy Hulu show that doesn’t have big staying power.

Last note: while Hulu confuses me and seems like an under-performer, the President of Hulu just got promoted to lead ALL of streaming for Disney. Hmmm…

Quick Notes on TV

  • The big story of the week was the appearance of a few weekly series to the charts, including Ted Lasso and Star Trek: Picard joining The Mandalorian. But since all are weekly releases, we can save them for a deeper dive next week.

  • Besides the weekly series I just mentioned above, the big story for the last two weeks (remember starting 6-March and 13-March) were returning series. Netflix released You’s (season 4) second batch of five episodes (don’t call it a weekly) about a month after its first batch of episodes came out (again, don’t call it a weekly-release show). The second batch didn’t have quite the same pick up as the first set, only getting to 22.5 million hours compared to 28.9 for the first batch of season 4. 
  • Comparing You’s season four run to its season three, it doesn’t seem to be having the same impact as before. For example, here’s its run on TV Time back in 2021 to now. Frankly, even with the double drop it didn’t stay on the chart as long. I’m not sure this is a sign of weakness for the series so much as a sign that the content wars are just increasingly crowded, even compared to just two years ago.

  • Shadow and Bone season two also came out, but this was one batch of eight episodes. It returned to 19.1 million hours on a Thursday release, which is a bit higher than last season’s debut of 12.0 million hours. (It’s teetering on the edge of cancellation.) On a smaller scale, South Korean series The Glory is Netflix’s top global series, but it’s another example of a foreign title that does well globally, but not in America, with only 6.8 million hours in the U.S. (Remember, we’re still 574 days from our last Squid Game.)

  • A few other series debuted in recent weeks, including Outlast, a reality series about survivalists working together. (Clearly the success of History Channel’s Alone, both on cable and streaming catch-up is in the inspiration here.) But it was binge-released, so we’ll see if it catches on. It had 11.5 million hours in its second week. The other new series is a reality docu-series, MH370: The Plane That Disappeared, on Netflix, which had a strong 19.4 million hours on a Wednesday debut, which dropped to 8.7 million hours in week two. I actually coded this as a “long” series since its episodes clock in at 90 minutes per episode.
  • Paramount+’s new series School Spirits—which released three episodes to start, then moved weekly—hasn’t made the Nielsen charts after its Thursday debut, but it did make TV Time in its X week of release.

  • As for previously released titles, Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal had a three week run on the charts for Netflix, while Next in Fashion had a tiny binge release curve, then fell off the charts. Outer Banks is still holding on, but at 12.0 million hours in its fourth week will likely fall of next week.

  • On the acquired charts, South Park continues to build steam for HBO Max. Meanwhile, since NBC started airing new The Blacklist episodes, it popped back on the Nielsen charts.

  • For the week of 6-Mar, there weren’t too many flops. I can confirm (unfortunately) that The Challenge: World Championship is the “Dog Not Barking” of the week. Is The Challenge the greatest TV franchise in the history of television? Maybe, so this bums me out. That said, I don’t think any show in this franchise has a huge budget. As a fan, though, I’d like to see it do a bit better. While not a streaming-only title, season two of Perry Mason, an HBO Original, failed to make the Showlabs charts, which is not great, plus the show didn’t get datecdote treatment from HBO, unlike their other hit shows. Why did HBO release this on Monday? Why doesn’t it air before Succession on Sundays instead? It looks like the Monday slot is the death slot of HBO. (It could also be a chicken and egg thing; did it get buried on a Monday so it have low ratings, or did it have low rating so it got sent to Mondays?)
  • For the week of 13-March…there were a bunch of Dogs Not Barking! The buzziest miss was almost certainly Prime Video’s Swarm (from Donald Glover), which feels like a huge miss based on how popular, buzzy, influential and talented Donald Glover is. Then again, maybe he’s just really, really big online/in Hollywood? Atlanta’s ratings never exactly set the world on fire. (Donald Glover, please, please, please be in the Community movie!)
  • But the biggest flop of the week, in terms of budgets but also big names, is Apple TV+’s Extrapolations, a big budget mini-series from Scott Z. Burns about global warming starring Meryl Streep, Sienna Miller, Kit Harington, Edward Norton, Diane Lane, Daveed Diggs, Matthew Rhys (He’s in two Dogs Not Barking this week! And he’s great!), Gemma Chan, David Schwimmer, Keri Russell, Marion Cotillard, Forest Whitaker, Tobey Maguire and more! And it looks expensive! (For now, Extrapolation is leading the race for “Dog Not Barking for the First Half of 2023”)
  • Other notable DNBs include Netflix’s latest adult animation comedy, Agent Elvis, Prime Video’s Aussie comedy, Class of ‘07 (which has some semi-notable stars), and reality shows like Peacock’s Queens Court, Netflix’s Dance 100 and apple TV+’s wrestling show,  Monster Factory.

Competition – Total Viewing on Top Series and Films Falls in Q1

Every quarter or so, I like to compare the share of the Nielsen charts, both by counting the total number of weekly shows and films by streamer, and by total viewership. This week, here’s the share of the charts by total hours viewed each week, showing the decline across streamers since December’s big peak:

Yes, it looks like, eyeballing it, Netflix’s share is slipping overall. I’ll dig into this deeper in the future (for paid subscribers!).

Anecdata of the Week – Netflix Mobile Games Reach 5.4 Million Downloads 

Researching Netflix this week, I came across this tidbit in Janko Roettger’s newsletter, that December was Netflix’s best month yet for mobile gaming. And there games were downloaded 5.4 million times in December of 2022, up from 2.3 million last year and up from the 2.9 million downloads they had in July of last year. As I noted at The Ankler, that’s about equal to 2% of their paid subscribers as of last quarter.

Datecdote of the Week – Show With Most 

In their “State of the Viewership” Reports, Samba TV has every so often included a graphic I really like: the series that had the most “single program” viewers, meaning the customers watched this show, and nothing else on that streamer. Here’s from the second half of 2022:

We can take some lessons from this. First, the biggest series tend to be the biggest across all metrics, simply by heft. That includes the number of folks who sign-up to watch a new series or film, but then bail. Second, the more popular platforms have smaller “single program” viewers, and Netflix is “number one” in this metric. Third, these are the shows you’d expect to have drawn in the most people, too.

Coming Soon! 

Oh man, next week is big!!! It’s Succession versus The Night Agent versus Yellowjackets. I can’t wait to see who wins.

Later this month, it starts: the Emmy Awards death march! Get ready for (literally) more prestige content than viewers can or want to watch. 


Here are the weekly top ten charts that I track. This week we have a double-dose of data since we missed last week’s Streaming Ratings Report:





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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