Disney Wishes Upon a “Wish”, and Even More Changes on the Acquired Charts

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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.)

Last week, I mentioned a hypothetical “Mt. Rushmore of Adult Animation”, so I asked on Twitter for people’s thoughts. I nominated Rick & Morty, but the crowd pushed back, nominating…

  • Futurama
  • King of the Hill
  • Bob’s Burgers
  • The Flintstones
  • Beavis & Butthead

Sure enough, one of those shows showed up the Acquired charts this week! Though I still think Rick & Morty is up there (especially representing Adult Swim), the answer I liked best was The Flintstones, the OG animated show on prime time (depending on whether you think it’s a kids show).

Otherwise, there’s sort of a different list, which is just a “Fox Animated Shows Mt. Rushmore”, giving you The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers, roughly one show every decade or so.

As for this week, it was a bit quiet, not for a lack of trying: 

  • No film or show broke 20 million hours in total viewership on Nielsen, my rough line for a very popular show or film.  
  • A lot of movies came to straight-to-streaming, but they didn’t do well. And the biggest new title, Disney’s Wish, is off to a very slow start.
  • And the new TV shows had very underwhelming debuts (and I’m not just talking about Apple TV+ shows). 

So let’s dive in.

(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 April 1st to April 7th.)

Television – The Updated Acquired Charts Round 2

For those of us who love looking at Nielsen’s The Gauge each month—as a reminder, this is basically the most valuable monthly scorecard in the U.S.—you’ve probably noticed that Hulu is routinely the second or third biggest streamer…

…but they hardly ever have shows on Nielsen’s top ten list, which begs this big lingering question:

What does everyone watch on Hulu?

Of course, we knew the answer: day-after-air TV shows. But knowing the answer and seeing the answer are two different things. (Einstein knew his theory of relativity worked; seeing it bear out in an eclipse proved it. Or darker: Oppenheimer knew the theory of the atom; seeing it explode proved it.)

Last week, Nielsen updated their metrics for how they track day-after-air TV, and all of a sudden, Hulu surged to the lead on the acquired TV charts:

Compare that to the chart from two weeks ago, before Hulu took over:

I don’t usually repeat topics for my mini-dives in back-to-back weeks, but this change deserves it. We’ll get a host of new data and seeing the change will influence how we perceive the streaming wars. For example, this week we had three new shows hit the charts:

  • 9-1-1
  • The Rookie
  • Bob’s Burgers

Meanwhile, Grey’s Anatomy’s viewership had a huge jump. That show’s ratings may be bigger than we thought. Again, we knew day-after-air TV was popular on Hulu, but I couldn’t prove it to you with specific numbers. Now we have the data.

More broadcast shows will look better too. For example, I had read a report about 9-1-1 moving from Fox to ABC and it put up big numbers, garnering 8.8 million viewers “across ABC, Hulu and other digital platforms,” according to Deadline. It had 4.9 million same day viewers, and 2.4 million viewers on streaming platforms. But we didn’t see those 2.4 million viewers in the charts. Now we can.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see how these charts stabilize, or if broadcast seasons provide a bit more variety to the charts. Already some new shows fell off (American Dad!) to make room. Meanwhile, some of the legacy shows like The Big Bang Theory, Friends and Cocomelon may struggle to break back into the top ten. The two big acquired shows of 2023—Young Sheldon and Suits—fell off this week. The three procedural staples that look set to stay on the charts are NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy and now Law & Order: SVU. Meanwhile, the Acquired Charts will look even bigger than the Originals with this extra viewing.

Do more broadcast series show on the acquired charts now? Maybe. For example, Tracker is a big hit for CBS, getting this datecdote, “CBS is getting 10.5 million viewers an episode (live+7) for Tracker so far this year, plus another 4.3 million on PAR+”. Does those numbers mean it could show up as it gets more episodes? Maybe.

Strategically, I’m even more discouraged by Hulu’s programming strategy. Knowing they had all this data about day-after-air TV, what type of shows did they make? They basically went all-in on HBO/FX-type shows. Some worked (The Bear, Nine Perfect Strangers), but most didn’t. But they already had FX-type shows on their network…from FX! Why did they opt for more prestige instead of procedurals? Or content that appealed to other demographics?

The smarter play would have been to complement the procedurals with some more procedurals, but also I would have added melodramas (my big genre win as I wrote about this week), sitcoms that are actually funny, and series featuring action (either Dad TV or prestigurals). Hulu has tried to make a few reality TV shows, like The Kardashians (though I think they overpaid) and Vanderpump Villa (see below), but we’ll see if it makes up for the Bravo shows they lost last year. 

Quick Notes on TV

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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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