Action and Melodrama Are In, Prestige is Out and Comedies are…TBD?

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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.)

Here’s what I warned my readers in my year-end recap last year, one of the most prescient things I’ve ever written:

“There’s a human cost to these unsustainable productions.

At some point, the streamers are going to start pulling back. As I just wrote for the The Ankler, everyone in town is talking about how TV shows are getting cancelled, pulled from streamers, or getting “un-ordered”. But it could get worse.

If it gets worse, a lot of people lose jobs. Or work less. And make less money. And suffer. And it sucks, to be inelegant about it. I know people who work on many of the shows I mentioned last week. This makes me very afraid for these people and their jobs.”

After a year of grim news, it’s safe to say that it got worse. I have friends who haven’t worked since the strikes started last year. Or are taking odd jobs and entry-level work just to pay the bills. Or are taking non-union jobs under-the-table. Just read Elaine Low’s reporting in the Ankler on how so many people are struggling around town. 

I just wish more people had heeded my warnings over the last few years.

That’s a dour note to start the last article in my 2023 Streaming Viewership Recap. Sure, it took some time, but this is why I believe this project matters. I collect and analyze this data to spot trends and figure out where the industry is going. To gain strategic insights. What content is succeeding, what is failing, and how well the streamers can make more of the former. The only way to get Hollywood back on track is to figure out what people actually want to watch and deliver it to them.

Today’s article is always my favorite of the series, because it provides the “So what?” to all of this data collection. Synthesizing what we’ve learned. And if you want to find all of those articles laying out what we’ve covered before…

  • You can find my articles on the biggest TV shows flops and misses here and here, and the film flops here and here. 
  • I covered the top TV shows here and here, and the top films here.
  • I took a look at whether a film or TV show was a “hit” as defined by the unions now, here and here.
  • And I declared the winners and losers of the year here.
  • If you want to go back in time, you can find a collection of my past content recaps for 2022, 2021 and 2020 here or here.)

We’ve got a lot to get to, so let’s get into it. 

Genre Winners and Losers for 2023

TV Genre of the Year, TV: Non-Prestige Dramas 

Honorable Mention: Exciting Sci-fi/Fantasy.

By whatever name (melodramas, soap operas, romance, what have you) non-prestige dramas were the clear standout winner. (This label might bother some people, but it’s fine by me. I don’t think “melodrama” is a pejorative, or it shouldn’t be.) Just look at this chart of the top 25 returning shows:

The biggest debut week for any show belonged to Outer Banks. Among new shows, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story and My Life with the Walter Boys also made the charts. 

I have a feeling that, in the same way people around town are looking for procedurals now, this is the next bit of “lean back” TV that you’re going to hear that people want around town. 

As for sci-fi and fantasy, if you look at the top shows on both the returning charts and debut shows, the genre is incredibly well-represented, with six of the top 25 returning shows and three or four of the top new shows. (It depends on how you categorize horror and sci-fi shows.)

(You’ll note that I wrote “exciting” up above. Basically, the biggest sci-fi flops were expensive sci-fi shows that aren’t exciting. As a reminder, my analysis doesn’t represent my personal opinion, since I love sci-fi, both space operas and intellectual sci-fi. Do I wish that high-brow sci-fi dominated viewership like superhero movies did in the 2010s? Yes. Do I think that’s going to happen? No. )

TV Genre Loser of the Year: Adult Animation

Honorable Mention: Crime shows

We’ve got a ton more to go over in this wrap up of the streaming landscape in 2023, but the rest is for paid subscribers of the Entertainment Strategy Guy, so if you’d like to find out…

  • What TV genres struggles in 2023…
  • What genre won at the box office…and what films struggled going straight-to-streaming…
  • The key ingredient for successful theatrical films…
  • What actor needs to fire his agents (Kidding!)…
  • Which streamer tied Apple TV+ for worst place in the battle to make prestige TV shows that audiences don’t watch…
  • If Netflix’s dominance on the streaming charts lasted another year…
  • All of my strategic takeaways…
  • Why Netflix has a comedy conundrum…

please subscribe! We can only keep doing this great work with your support.

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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