Crime vs Genre, What Won The Last Two Weeks?

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(Welcome to my weekly streaming ratings report, the single best guide to what is popular in streaming TV and what isn’t. I’m the Entertainment Strategy Guy, a former streaming executive who now analyzes business strategy in the entertainment industry. If you were forwarded this email, please subscribe to get these insights each week.)

The streaming wars are slowly-but-surely picking up steam again! After the strikes of 2023 shut down all production, we’ve definitely seen a slowdown in new releases to start the year, but the last couple of weeks we’ve had some big titles return or debut. For example, the week of 5-February, Max dropped Tokyo Vice, one of their more expensive-looking originals, and Paramount+ released Halo, definitely their most CGI-heavy original. The week before, Prime Video released Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a show with a strong IP background from a major creator (Donald Glover). 

That said, compared to the streaming boom of 2021, it still feels light overall. The streamers—except for Netflix—are mostly not trying to win by sheer volume. And even Netflix is being more selective these days.

We’ve got a lot to cover in another double issue this week, since I took last week off to continue EntStrategyGuy’s 2023 Streaming Viewership Recap. Seriously, check out the misses of the second half here or here, check out the top films here, and the top shows here or here. In fact, looking at the top shows of 2023 inspired the main question for this week, “What does better: genre titles or crime titles?” We’ll answer that, plus a look at Netflix and Paramount’s latest kids animated misses, check-in on Masters of the Air, review a new HBO datecdote, review South Korea and Japan’s streaming battles, talk about the latest USA Network show to make the acquired charts, examine The Marvels coming to Disney+, list off all of the flops, bombs and misses for the week, and more.

(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 January 29th to February 11th.)

Television – Genre vs. Crime…What won this week?

Having spent last week looking at the top shows on streaming in 2023, I definitely noticed some trends. In particular, four genres did particularly well last year:

  • Crime/mystery shows (either procedural or serialized)
  • Genre shows (think science fiction, superhero, horror or fantasy)
  • Dramas with a romance angle (YA or soap opera)
  • Action/thrillers (particularly on the debut charts)

Here’s the key chart from last week:

And it’s not just 2023. I noticed the same patterns over the last two weeks on streaming (remember the weeks start 29-Jan and 5-Feb):

Once again, the genre shows (In my definition, “genre” means anything with fantastical elements: science fiction, horror, fantasy and superheroes. In literature, mystery and action novels would also be considered “genre” books, but that’s too narrow for TV.) are right a the top of the charts: Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Halo and Percy Jackson, and the crime shows are right behind them: Griselda and The Tourist. I would add, Max released a new season of Tokyo Vice, which missed the charts, and it’s definitely a crime show too. So let’s use that context to ask the question of the week: 

What won the week: crime shows or genre shows?

Let’s start with Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Prime Video’s big swing of the last two weeks. On the one hand, this is a good start, to debut with 16.1 and 12.8 million hours in its first two weeks. Looking at just Amazon new releases, that’s good for fifth place among their season one shows through two weeks.

So not bad—probably more than good enough for a renewal if the creatives want it—but not huge like either Reacher, Hunters or The Terminal List. The Wheel of Time is only just above Mr. & Mrs. Smith through two weeks, but since the former was released weekly and the latter came out in one batch of episodes, the gap will likely diverge in The Wheel of Time’s favor. Reacher had a HUGE binge release two years back, then it fell off (going from 26.5 million hours in week two to 15.6 million hours in third week). Meanwhile Amazon needed a new debut hit: in my ranking of top new shows in 2023, Amazon didn’t launch a single top 25 show, as friend of the website Brandon Katz pointed out to me.

It’s also interesting which expensive series Amazon Studios chooses to give a weekly release—LoTR: The Rings of Power; The Wheel of Time; Citadel—and which it doesn’t—nearly everything else. Mr. & Mrs. Smith fell into the latter category, but based on its debut, it probably should have come out weekly.

In the, “Oh my gosh, that was probably expensive” category, we’ve got Halo on Paramount+. Its previous season came out in 2022, before Nielsen tracked Paramount+. Halo’s second season made the charts with 5.9 million hours. Paramount+ is releasing this series weekly, and on a Thursday to boot.

Finally, Disney+ released the eighth and final episode of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Compared to past Disney+ series, you’d have to call this a win, especially since it skews younger than some other Marvel and Star Wars series. And it’s another win for a genre series.

Overall, it looks like genre is winning this little showdown, but then Netflix comes in and can point out that Griselda came out big, with 67.5 million hours through three weeks, good for 13th place all time among season one or limited series releases. The caveat here—which we’ve been seeing more of in general and will likely see more as streamers rush shows post strike—is that it only came out with six episodes, leading to a steeper drop off in its “binge release curve” than usual in its third week.

Reacher also continued its long run, though it too dropped its eighth and final episode on 19-Jan, so like Percy Jackson, it’s finally running out of steam after a successful run. And what a run as it’s now the third biggest second season after eight weeks in my data set.

In other words, crime and mystery series, when done well, vies with genre shows as the most in-demand streaming genre. 

But not always! For example, on 1-Feb, the formerly Max Original The Tourist—an Australian/UK mystery show with crime elements—came to Netflix exclusively. Its second season will come out in a few weeks; it already has Netflix Original branding, one of the rare “original” streaming shows to actually switch streamers and branding. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one other show that has done it—Cobra Kai heading from YouTube Red to Netflix—but there may be others. (Some broadcast shows have also shifted to Netflix, like Manifest or Luther.) It only got 4.2 million hours in its first week, and given that I don’t think too many folks watched The Tourist on Max when it first came out, I’d have to say there is probably a reason Warner Bros. Discovery let this one go, but we’ll see when season two comes out in a few weeks.

Speaking of Max hits and misses, their original series Tokyo Vice released its latest season on 8-Feb and so far has missed every chart I track. Chalk that one up to “crime series that missed”.

That leaves the last big crime show, True Detective: Night Country. That’s a crime series, since detective is right in the name. (Or is it, since it has vaguely supernatural elements?) Either way, it did well for HBO, growing its viewership during the season. (We’ll look at its finale performance in our next issue.

So did crime or genre win this week? They’re both winners. I love to set up these little showdowns “Genre X versus Genre Y”, but most of the time one week or even a few months of data isn’t enough to really draw conclusions. Either way, both genres tend to dominate the top of the charts.

Quick Notes on TV

  • After the TV shows I mentioned above, all the other new shows came out on Netflix. The UK romantic drama series, One Day, made Nielsen, but on the very low end for a Netflix show with only 4.9 million hours. It’s a half hour series, which explains some of that. It also made the Samba TV top shows chart too. (See next chart.) It has shockingly good IMDb scores as well (an 8.2 on 30K). Netflix also released a historical docu-series, Alexander: The Making of a God, which similarly underwhelmed with 7.3 million total hours on the Nielsen charts despite making the Samba TV charts. That one, though, is much cheaper to produce, so it isn’t a big miss.

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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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