(Welcome to the Entertainment Strategy Guy, a newsletter on the entertainment industry and business strategy. I’m a former business-executive-turned-entertainment-journalist and each week, I write a Streaming Ratings Report and a strategy column, along with occasional deep dives into other topics, like today’s article. If you were forwarded this email, please subscribe to get these insights each week.)
Each week, the Streaming Ratings Report provides a snapshot of the weekly ratings, but this is only half the battle, since ostensibly TV ratings exist to predict what shows will and won’t get renewed. (And traditionally, to determine how many people a show’s paid advertising reached.)
I’m now writing a semi-regular feature to answer that question, providing my take on why some streaming TV shows got renewed or cancelled, trying to figure out if the ratings match those decisions, which is harder than ever these days.
Pre-streaming, things were much simpler: popular shows got renewed and bombs got cancelled before they even finished airing all of their episodes. (Believe me, I’m taking a look back at the 90s right now to figure this out; so many shows got cancelled mid-season.) Sure, some shows wound up on the bubble at the end of each broadcast season—leading to many fun “bubble watch” blog posts back in the early internet days—but things were pretty straight-forward.
Then again, that was a different, more stable era (with 3-5 broadcast channels, some cable channels, and so on.) But streaming is a growing industry, and every streamer has different considerations, strategies, financial situations, and so on, that influence what gets renewed and what doesn’t. (Smaller streamers seem to renew something, anything, to keep returning shows around, while Netflix, due to its massive subscriber base, cancels some TV shows that would be mega-hits for smaller streamers.)
Things will be straight-forward again in the future, but right now, there’s some shows that should have been renewed, shows that should have been cancelled…and some decisions that truly puzzle me. So let’s dive right in and see what the ratings say!
(Reminder: Read last edition (for January and February) here. As I wrote last time, this is far from a complete list of renewals or cancellations, especially for linear TV. I think I mostly found everything, but if shows felt too small or I just didn’t catch the renewal/cancellation, well, be warned.)
Popular Shows That Got Renewed
First up, here’s streaming TV shows that got renewed because those shows were popular/got good ratings.
- Netflix renewed The Night Agent, Ginny & Georgia, The Diplomat and Virgin River. Since The Night Agent, Virgin River and Ginny & Georgia all made the “40 Million Hours” club, it’s no surprise that these shows got renewed. (Ginny & Georgia will get new showrunners for their next season.) The Diplomat had the tenth best launch of a season one in my dataset, so that renewal also makes sense, though it’s hold wasn’t as strong as the others.
- I saw some people complaining online about The Night Agent getting renewed instead of [Fill-in-the-blank, less-popular YA fantasy show like Warrior Nun or Lockwood & Co.] and I’ll just say, this show had better ratings! That’s why it got renewed!
- Netflix also renewed Outlast, a reality show about surviving in the wilderness, which had okay ratings, but for the budget, I get it.
- Apple TV+ renewed Shrinking for a second season. Though it didn’t make the Nielsen charts, it had a very strong performance (for Apple TV+) on the TV Time charts (it was the 47th best show overall in my dataset, but Apple TV+’s third best show), so this makes sense.
- Amazon renewed two Freevee shows, Bosch: Legacy and Judy Justice. Though their core demos probably aren’t online or working in the media, a lot of (mostly older) Americans love Harry Bosch and Judge Judy. I can’t wait to get Plum Research’s data on Bosch: Legacy when its second season comes out. Same goes for Judy Justice.
- I mentioned this last time, but unsurprisingly, HBO renewed The Last of Us for another season. Since then, the creators have confirmed that adapting the second video game will span multiple seasons, though HBO has only renewed the show for one more season. Again, this show nearly hit the ratings heights of House of the Dragon; it’s a huge hit.
- I am curious about when The Last of Us’s next season will actually come out. The benefit of the old broadcast model was that, when TV shows got renewed, episodes came out the next fall like clockwork. These days, a lot of popular shows don’t get renewed until the latest season comes out, which means future seasons can come out eighteen months, two years, or more after the first season ended. Will that be the case with The Last of Us? If it took years to develop and write the first season, when is season two coming out? By the way, this same issue already infected—to use a Last of Us pun—HBO’s House of the Dragons (which wasn’t coming out this year even before the strike) and Amazon’s Rings of Power (which started filming season two last year, but it’s still not expected to come out until next year). I don’t expect the streamers/studios to figure this out anytime soon.
Shows That I’m Not Sure What I Think
- Paramount+ is ending Star Trek: Discovery after its fifth season. Since we haven’t had a new season since 2021, I don’t have much ratings data on this show, so it’s hard to say if this choice is a good or bad one. Conversely, Paramount+ renewed Star Trek: Strange New Worlds for a third season before season two even came out. Since we didn’t get Paramount+’s Nielsen viewership last year, I can’t say if I like this decision, but it did well on TV Time and IMDb, which matches what all of the my trekkie friends are telling me: it’s the best Star Trek show in years.
- Paramount+ also renewed the The Family Stallone, but we don’t have ratings for that show either yet, but will in a few weeks.
- Peacock has renewed Days of Our Lives for two more years through season 60. We’ve never had ratings data on this show, so I’m not sure about this; it depends on the budget. That said, I’d be very curious to see if Netflix, someday, tries its hand at a daily soap opera! Though I’m not sure that their subscriber base is old enough to support a soap, I would be curious to see if a modern version could catch on with younger audiences.
Shows That Are “Ending” After Long Runs
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