Baby Reindeer Isn’t As Big As the Hype, But It’s Still A Hit

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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.)

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Though this is the Streaming Ratings Report, the big entertainment industry news is May’s box office numbers. As I wrote on the various socials, everyone knew (or should have known) that these bad box office numbers were coming, but expect more on that subject next week in my “Most Important Story of the week” column. That said, the under-covered story is how films are doing on streaming in April and May; I think you’ll see that viewers aren’t staying home to watch films on streaming either. Expect more on this all month in the SRR…and in the rest of this issue. Three pretty major films came straight-to-streaming and flopped/underperformed—and one of them the streamer tried to spin it as a hit.

All that, plus a bunch of prestige TV shows, a look at Baby Reindeer after a few weeks worth of data, a debate over whether Ryan Gosling is a star, and a whole bunch of TV show flops. (Seriously, so many flops.)

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, Luminate’s top ten viewership charts, 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 29th to May 5th.)

Television – The Emmy Tsunami Starts and Baby Reindeer is Big…But How Big?

Collecting this week’s entries, I realized that a lot of the shows had some big name talent attached. (Jeff Daniels, Anne Hathaway, Sean Bean, Elisabeth Moss, Diane Lane, Harvey Keitel to name a few.) The themes and subject matter also seemed a little more serious. And while potentially big budget, they seemed more like drama dramas than action dramas. At first, I was a bit confused. Then I remembered…

Oh yeah, it’s Emmy season.

For those who don’t know, the deadline to qualify for an Emmy—TV and streaming’s most prestigious award—was 31-May-2024. (Or Friday.) Thus, if you want to win that prestigious award, it helps to release your buzzy prestige show as close to the deadline as possible to lodge it in the minds of Emmy voters.

I’m going to let you on in a little secret: winning an Emmy guarantees profitably for a streamer. If a streamer’s limited series gets an Emmy nod, that’s worth about ten million new subscribers.

I’m kidding of course.

In my experience, about the only thing related to awards that actually boosts viewership is winning the award. Even then, the prize is a boost in viewership, not millions of new subscribers. So dozens of shows compete for a 8-10 nomination slots, of which only the winner really benefits. Considering all the spending, the ROI math doesn’t really work out. And yet the streamers fight for these prizes, because the prestige in town matters personally to the executives in charge. (And many journalists use winning awards as a proxy for success.)

With that preamble out of the way, let’s talk about the first of these prestige entries on the viewing charts. (The next few weeks will see a few more of these. And Apple Studios has been releasing prestige shows since their big early-year push started in February.)

To start, A Man in Full, a drama from David E. Kelley starring Jeff Daniels based on a Tom Wolfe drama from the 1990s, debuted on Netflix on 2-May. If you asked ChatGPT to design a prestige show, that result is probably what you’d get. It had middling Metacritic ratings: a 50 on 20 critical reviews. Normally, I ignore critical reviews—I focus on customer reviews—but for prestige plays, they definitely matter. As for customers, it currently has an 6.5 on only 9.5K reviews, which also isn’t great. 

As for the ratings, the Nielsen numbers were so so, just eking past 10.3 million in its first week:

It did make the Samba TV charts, but only in the middle:

Instead, the bigger story for A Man In Full is its successful Luminate numbers. (Yay for this new dataset! Though I am still getting used to it.) According to Luminate, in its second week A Man in Full had 18.3 million hours viewed, bigger than another very buzzy series that I’ll discuss next.

(For those who remember my previous concerns about Luminate, as of right now Luminate has permitted me to use the public data and make limited charts. Yay for more data!)

In fact, another show also did better on Luminate’s charts than Nielsen’s: The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Peacock’s Holocaust romance, also based off of a book. (It’s also probably the second result you’d get with a hypothetical ChatGPT prestige show prompt.) Now, it made the top ten on Luminate so you might think this will save it, and I gotta be honest, this still might be a miss for Peacock. It looks very expensive and missed two of the ratings charts I track (Nielsen and Samba TV). It only has a 61 on 16 critical reviews on Metacritic. On the other hand, according to Luminate, The Tattooist of Auschwitz had more hours watched than than Is It Cake?’s third season! So it’s a miss, but maybe not that big of a miss.

The good news for both Peacock and Netflix is that at least these award plays made some ratings charts. As we saw last year and the year before, often prestige titles come and go with nary a splash. (Stay tuned for more of those at the end of the TV section!)

But the biggest prestige play of recent weeks wasn’t even really an Emmy push, and it came came out of nowhere near the start of April.

Baby Reindeer’s Slow Burn

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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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