Sometimes you run across a headline that’s so good, you wish you had written it yourself, like when when this “a ha”-inducing headline made it across my screen:
“New WGA Contract Offers Up Official Definition for ‘Hit’ Streaming Series”
Obviously, I have strong thoughts on what we call a “hit”, since I wrote a (pretty popular) article on it! (Recently, journalists and writers haves started calling underperforming TV shows that they like “fan favorites” instead of “hits”.) Yes, we call too many things “hits” nowadays. Does the new WGA “success-based streaming residuals bonus”—which I spent last week calculating for every streamer from 2021 to June 2023 last week—provide us a pseudo-official definition of what a “hit” is, as TV Line suggests?
Yeah, I think it does.
Scanning the list of TV shows that would have earned the WGA’s success-based residual—find that article here—each one makes sense to me. I would call most of them “hits”, and the two exceptions were on the “likely earned the residual” list: Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist and The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window. Both had short runtimes, which likely explains their strong performance in the “views” metric.
So let’s take this new metric—TV shows we define as “hits”—and dive just a bit deeper. Last week, I looked at the overall hit rate for season one series on streaming. Today, let’s look at how successful each streamer, individually, has been in creating those hit shows. In other words, a quick history for how well the streamers have performed from 2021 to June 2023. And, again, a big reminder that this only covers season one and limited series in this analysis. (I’ll get to second seasons and beyond, if possible, in future articles.)
In addition to analyzing each streamer, I want to provide some streamer specific tidbits like:
…how Netflix’s production dwarfs every other streamer.
…why the Disney corporation is both the biggest winner and the biggest loser according to these metrics.
…each streamer’s hit rate, the number of eligible season one series they made in that time frame, how many made the Nielsen charts, and more.
…how the least respected streamer does surprisingly well.
By Streamer – The First Four Streamers Tracked by Nielsen
Overall, I tend to be more confident in my estimates of “hit shows” for the four streamers that Nielsen has been tracking since the start of the 2021: Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+. (They started releasing data for all four in 2020, but expanded to a dedicated list for “original” TV shows in 2021.) The Nielsen viewership data is the purest look at actual consumption of a TV show.
Let’s start best hit rate to worst.
Hit Rate: 50%
Shows That Earned (Or Likely Earned) High-Budget Residual: 12
Shows That Made Nielsen Charts: 16
Eligible Shows: 24
Total Shows in Dataset: 89
As a company, Disney is very boom or bust. Disney+ had the best hit rate in streaming; Hulu had the worst. (See below.)
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