How Many 2023 Streaming Films Were Hits?

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(Welcome to the Entertainment Strategy Guy, a newsletter on the entertainment industry and business strategy. I write a weekly Streaming Ratings Report and a bi-weekly strategy column, along with occasional deep dives into other topics, like today’s article. Please subscribe.)

We’re on our last few stops of EntStrategyGuy’s 2023 Streaming Viewership Recap. We’ve looked at the “misses” here, here, here and here. We looked at the winners here, here and here. Today, we start looking at winners in a slightly different way. Specifically, the new “consensus” (for lack of a better word) for a “hit” in streaming. 

Pioneered by the WGA, but since adopted by the DGA and SAG-AFTRA—a hit is:

Any show or film whose total views—hours viewed divided by run time—exceeds 20% of a streamer’s subscriber base as of 1-July of the year before in the first 90 days.

Got all that? To reward top performing shows and films, the studios and guilds agreed to define a show or film as a hit if 20% of subscribers watch a show (though “subscribers” is interpreted as “views” or the total hours watched divided by run time). Back in October, I calculated the hits among new shows (first seasons and limited series) up to June 2023. I also looked at the “hit rate” by streamer here. 

A caution: only US-produced, high budget, scripted SVOD programming can earn the WGA residual bonus, which rules out films that go theaters, films and shows from outside of America, and unscripted programming of all types. However, this definition of success from the guild agreements gives us the most industry consensus we’ve had—since the Streaming Ratings Era™ started—on what defines success on streaming, so I’m looking at all new films on streaming today. 

And I’m using Nielsen’s Top Ten ratings data since their data includes every streamer.

Let’s dive right in with my top line conclusion, then share which films that would have qualified as hits in 2023. At the end, I’ll have some takeaways and methodology notes. Next week, we’ll talk TV.


To start, I’m going to look at every film that made Nielsen’s streaming charts in 2023. Again, not all these films are eligible for the streaming residual bonus, but since this is the new definition of a hit, I want to include any new films on any streamer.

Out of 133 film films that made Nielsen’s top ten streaming charts, a whopping 33% (44 films) of them would have qualified as hits. Another 11% (14 films) likely would have qualified.

Here’s how that breaks down by streamer:

Note: I don’t say these films would have “earned” the new high-performing residual, since it only went into effect for films released after 1-January. But if they were eligible, most of these movies would have earned it. Four, however, definitely weren’t, which I’ll clarify below.

In the chart above, I did include films that came to theaters, since my goal was to see how many films were hits, regardless of eligibility. Here’s the number of films that were hits by release window, including both theatrical-first films and streaming-first:

To find out which films qualified as hits, which films would have but weren’t eligible, which streamer didn’t have any hits, which had the most, and everything in between…

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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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