How Many 2023 Streaming TV Shows Were Hits? And What Does This Say About the Binge versus Weekly Debate?

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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 so close to the end of the my deep dives into the content landscape of the streaming wars in 2023. Before I wrap up my 2023 Streaming Viewership Recap, I need to calculate one final piece of data: the hits for TV in 2023. 

I looked at all the streaming TV shows that would have earned the new WGA residual in October, which included shows from the first half of 2023, but we still need to analyze everything from the second half of the year. (Late last month, I looked at the films that would have earned the success-based residual in 2023.)

As a reminder, the emerging consensus for a “hit” in Hollywood comes from the WGA/DGA/SAG-AFTRA definition, which 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.

To figure this out, I used Nielsen’s top ten data, since it provides data for every major streamer.  As I did last time, I’m limiting my analysis to first or limited series (“debut” series in my definitions), since the Nielsen data set provides ratings at the series, not season, level. I have some other data notes, but I saved them for the end of the article so we can dive right in.

Later this week and next, I’ll wrap everything up, looking at the winners and losers in TV and film, then the best and worst streamers, genres, and strategy thoughts. So be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss anything.


In 2023, 86 season one or limited series made the Nielsen charts for at least one week. I assume that any show that failed to hit that fairly low bar wasn’t a “hit”. But how many were? By my calculation…

…13% of debut series were hits. (5.8% were definitely hits and 7.0% were probably hits. Another 8.1% could potentially be hits, but would have needed to have lower decay rates than average to hit that threshold.)

Yep, that seems low to me, and is much lower than the film side. As a reminder, about one third of films were hits!

Unlike films, which have the “theatrical versus straight-to-streaming” complication, most TV shows either premiere on streaming first or broadcast/cable, and don’t arrive on streaming for much later. The interesting distinction, then, is the release style debate: binge versus weekly. 

Here’s how that looks:

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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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