The Battle for Emmy Awards Begins! Plus Beef, 80 for Brady, Grease, Chupa, and more.

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(Welcome! This is the Entertainment Strategy Guy’s weekly streaming ratings report, the single best guide to what works on streaming television and what doesn’t. If you were forwarded this email, please subscribe to get these insights each week.)

Happy belated “May the Fourth Be With You” Day and happy current Cinco de Mayo!

It’s the start of May, but since my streaming ratings reports have a four-week delay, that means this week’s report—for the weekly starting 3-April—covers the start of the two month sprint until the “Emmy eligibility window” closes. So over the next eight weeks, we’ll see some buzzy shows angling for an awards nod trying to lodge themselves in voters’ minds right before voting ends. And we have three good examples this week: Beef and Transatlantic on Netflix, and Tiny Beautiful Things on Hulu. 

How did they do? Well, two struck out, but one hit.

That, plus we’ll dive into that plus Grease: The Rise of the Pink Ladies, 80 For Brady, a kids film with an unintentionally funny title, and the largest (and least accurate) datecdote we’ve covered yet.

(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 the weeks of April 3rd to April 9th.)

Television – Three Contenders at The Start of Emmy Season…

I should explain what I consider to be a “prestige” show, since it’s not something that is uniform or consistent. And not to go to the cliched, “like Supreme Court justices and pornography I know it when I see it…” but yeah, I kind of do?

More than anything, a “prestige” show is a TV show made with the goal of winning awards and/or the plaudits of critics and pundits. It could have:

  • A star performer, often in a non-heroic role
  • An auteur showrunner or creator, someone who has either won awards before or came from the indie film world.
  • Non-genre (meaning not sci-fi, fantasy or super hero)
  • Focuses on searing, often dark, emotional subject matter or real world political issues and subject matter.
  • If it’s a half-hour show, it’s usually a “dramedy” not “haha comedy”
  • The main character is a writer.

That last one is a joke. But not too far off! Take Tiny Beautiful Things, which stars Kathryn Hahn playing a sad advice columnist. A writer with a sense of ennui is a shoe-in to compete for awards. (Hahn is also a terrific actor, so she has a lot of fans among critics to help her awards chances.) It also comes from independent production company, Hello Sunshine! But seriously, there are a ton of TV shows and films about writers and struggling writers. (Write what you know and what not.)

Of course, you know where this is going? Right? 

Tiny Beautiful Things missed all the charts I track. No Nielsen. No TV Time. (I don’t have Showlabs data for Hulu, unfortunately.) It’s also sitting on a 7.2 on IMDb with only 2.5K reviews. That’s really, really, really low. We did get a Samba TV data point, but it only had 230K households through three days, which is quite low. I don’t have to tell you that’s not much, right? And since it was binge-released, unless it can eke out an Emmy nomination, it will likely fade into obscurity. (Well, we’ll still make sure it gets called out as a “dog not barking” in the summer!)

On to Netflix’s latest Emmy attempts. First, check out the Nielsen Top Ten Originals list:

Of the two potential prestige shows, Beef made the charts, but Transatlantic didn’t. For those who don’t know, the latter stars Gillian Jacobs and is about saving refugees in World War II. Go ahead and add, “Takes place in World War II and/or involves refugees” to the list of prestige show criteria above. (In fairness, this applies more to prestige films.)Of course, that means it’s a period piece, so expensive. (It may also be a German production, but my sources were unclear on that.) Like Tiny Beautiful Things, it missed Nielsen and TV Time, but it also missed Showlabs. And it only has a 6.5 on 3K reviews.

Beef, in contrast, did well. It debuted as the 29th biggest season one in my data set, out of a whopping 225 titles now. To its credit, it’s also a half-hour show with only eight episodes, so really it shouldn’t quite compete with those other titles. Here’s the top half-hour shows to account for that.

About the only criticism is that Beef had a weak TV Time run, only lasting for three weeks. My gut is that Netflix’s binge-released shows just don’t sustain interest for that long. They come and go. On IMDb, it does have elite scores, with an 8.0 on 60K reviews. That’s excellent for a show like this. 

So lessons? Well, in a game of hit rates, the prestige shows don’t deliver as often as other titles. I’m only picking on three titles right now, but if you read my epic series of the misses, flops and bombs of 2022, they overwhelmingly involve “prestige” titles. It was my “Genre Loser of the 2022”. 

And frankly, it’s a game I wouldn’t play, since often the Emmys just end up ignoring prestige titles for genuinely popular fare. (See Ted Lasso, Only Murders in the Building, What We Do in the Shadows, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Stranger Things, Squid Game, Better Call Saul or Ozark from last year. Would you be surprised if Last of Us shows up this year?)

As for the streamers themselves, at least Netflix varies up their content. Hulu’s slate is seemingly filled with prestige dramedies or dramas like Tiny Beautiful Things (think Fleishman Is in Trouble, Ramy, Under the Banner of Heaven, Life & Beth, Welcome to Chippendales, Reservation Dogs, Dollface, The Girl from Plainville, Pistol, This Fool, and more from last year alone) that no one watches. Disney has said they’re going to get out of “undifferentiated general entertainment”, and one of the key questions I have is whether shows like Tiny Beautiful Things count as “undifferentiated” or not. My gut is the execs would say, “No, this is our brand, for excellence.” I’d rethink that.

Quick Notes on TV

  • Besides those titles mentioned above, we didn’t have a lot of big hits come out the week of 3-April. Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies showed up on Paramount+ on 6-April, a Thursday. But it missed both the Nielsen charts and TV Time charts. We did get one piece of data for it from Samba TV, that it had 300K households watch in the first four days. Like Tiny Beautiful Things above, I don’t have to tell you that’s low, do I? Combined with low IMDb score of a 5.5 (people downvoted this show for political reasons) on a lowly 2.2K reviews is not great. If people are downvoting your show and you still can’t get above ten thousand reviews, that’s really bad. This is in“Miss of the Year” territory, especially given the IP. Wednesday was based on preexisting IP, but it clearly hit the zeitgeist and this did not.

  • The other big “new release” of the week was Jury Duty on Amazon FreeVee. For those who don’t know, that’s Amazon’s ad-supported streaming service, that you don’t need to have Prime Video to watch. It missed the Nielsen charts—well, Nielsen doesn’t track FreeVee yet—but did make the Showlabs by Plum Research charts, but on the very low end:

  • We also saw the second season of Schmigadoon! come out on Apple TV+. Like every other Apple TV+ show not named Ted Lasso (in its fourth week on the Nielsen charts, by the way) it missed the Nielsen charts. But it did show up on the TV Time charts for a four week run. That’s good, and something we’ve seen a pinch from for Apple TV+ shows. (Severance had an five week run, Mythic Quest had a nine week run and so did Shrinking.) Fun bonus fact to impress your friends; Schmigadoon! is a Universal Studios-produced show.

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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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