The Winners and Losers for Film and TV in 2023

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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.)

Way too often, I hear pundits and analysts saying that we have no idea what a hit is these days. (I’ve debunked this idea before.) Sure, we don’t get comprehensive Nielsen ratings for every streaming TV show. On top of that, multiple companies measure streaming ratings now. (Nielsen, Plum Research, Samba TV, Luminate and Parrot Analytics are the five most public examples.) On top of that on top of that, the streaming companies themselves sporadically offer their own datecdotes and data drops.

But let me tell you what we do know:

Of course, when I say “we know”, that doesn’t mean most people working in this industry know. Listen to min. 3:30 of this podcast I did with Sonny Bunch last July; almost no one can remember the hit films on streaming. But I write a weekly Streaming Ratings Report. I live and breathe this data each week. So having written in-depth pieces on each of the three topics above, today, I’m going to sum it all up. We’re headed for the second-to-last stop on Ent StrategyGuy’s 2023 Content Review.

We’re covering the winners and losers of 2023. 

That means deciding what shows and films truly won the year. Then it’s time to go over the biggest flops, bombs and misses in 2023, since most people in Hollywood don’t remember the flops, bombs and misses, especially on streaming. Next week, I’ll close out with genre and streamer winners and losers, along with some strategy thoughts. 

Let’s get right into it. 

Winners of 2023 – TV Shows

Since I already wrote two articles on the top TV shows from last year, I’m going to run through the top shows quickly. If you want to read more in depth analysis, check out the other articles here and here.  

Show of the Year: Ted Lasso

As I wrote before, some people couldn’t believe that Ted Lasso was the top show on Nielsen’s annual charts, but it was also the top show according to Nielsen’s weekly charts. And that’s for a half-hour show!

Best Series, Binge-Release: Ginny & Georgia

Honorable Mention: The Night Agent, Virgin River, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, FUBAR

Even though shows like Ginny & Georgia and Virgin River don’t get the same glowing reviews, write-ups and profiles as prestige dramas, they’re monsters on the ratings charts. (This is also a sneak peak at our genre of the year…) It’s a great example of perception versus reality in Hollywood. Even though shows like these quietly do great ratings, people don’t really talk about them all that much.

Not only was The Night Agent the biggest new show of the year, it also had the best three-week debut of any show in 2023.

Meanwhile, FUBAR was the third biggest new show of the year, behind Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, which shows that even Netflix leans on pre-existing IP. 

Netflix has every nominee in this category, since they’re the biggest streamer and they don’t release any of their shows (aside from a handful of foreign imports) weekly. Like ad-tiers, sports, and password sharing crackdowns, the question is whether or when they change their mind on this at this some point, at least with their top-performing returning shows. 

Best Series, Weekly: Ted Lasso 

Honorable Mentions: Reacher, The Mandalorian, Ahsoka, Percy Jackson

After Ted Lasso, genre shows dominated the weekly release charts. And Disney+ is the king of new weekly titles. 

Best Half Hour: Ted Lasso

Honorable Mentions: Only Murders In the Building, Beef

I like to look at half-hours separately, due to their length. In this case, I felt that both Hulu’s top performing show (Only Murders In the Building) and Netflix’s top performing half-hour (Beef) deserved some love, which is also sort of the only “prestige” show on this list. But neither shows’ ratings compared to Ted Lasso ultimately.

Best Unscripted Series: Love is Blind

Honorable Mention: Squid Game: The Challenge

What’s crazy about Love is Blind is that its ratings this year have spiked way up.

Regarding Squid Game: The Challenge, yeah, it’s ironic that a show about a crazy game show sort of turned into a crazy game show (at least people weren’t getting murdered in this one…) but it was a huge debut for Netflix. And it shows two things: again, even Netflix leans on IP to generate big hits. And also…we’re still waiting for the “next Squid Game” (And Squid Game later this year.)

Best Cable Series: The Last of Us

The Last of Us was the only first run cable show to land on the Nielsen acquired charts in 2023, making it the winner of this category by default. The other big contender for this crown—Yellowstone—didn’t have new episodes in 2023.

Best Acquired show: Suits

Honorable Mention: Young Sheldon, The Big Bang Theory

Everyone knows about the Suits phenomenon, but not enough people talk about the contradiction: almost no streaming shows will reach this number of episodes. Currently, the three major broadcast channels are making long running TV shows (both sitcoms and procedurals) but after those shows end/the cable bundle finally dies, where will Netflix find its next Suits or Young Sheldon?

Best Kids Show of the Year: Bluey

Honorable Mention: Cocomelon

We know kids rewatch and rewatch and rewatch their shows, but Bluey also seems to have some crossover appeal to parents (it doesn’t drive them crazy) so that helped put Bluey on top this year:

Losers of the Year, TV

We’re just getting started with this year-end recap, but the rest is for paid subscribers of the Entertainment Strategy Guy, so if you’d like to find out…

  • The surprise winner for “Film of the Year”…
  • That’s also the biggest film in Netflix top ten history in America according to Nielsen…
  • The two superhero/sci-fi films that crushed it on streaming…
  • My “Bomb of the Year” for TV, one of the biggest bombs in TV history that no one remembers…
  • What streamer struggled with TV remakes…
  • What streamer struggled with awards contenders…
  • And a lot more…

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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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