Madame Web’s Shocking Streaming Debut, Plus Bridgerton vs. Outer Range

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(Welcome to my weekly streaming ratings report, the single best guide to what’s 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.)

Recently, a friend sent me a podcast where a critic was complaining that we know what movies are popular, thanks to box office results, but we have no idea what TV shows are popular, because there’s not streaming ratings aside from a handful of datecdotes. Of course, as I’ve written multiple times before, we have streaming ratings now. What’s even weirder/more frustrating is that example that the critic used to illustrate this point:

He asked if we know how popular the recently-cancelled Tokyo Vice was compared to the smash hit Fallout.

And I can tell you: Tokyo Vice is one of the least popular shows on streaming—it was a bomb of the year candidate two years ago and is definitely on the list for Max this year—while Fallout is one of the most popular. Here’s the total hours viewed for these two shows:

Reminder: most weeks the last show on the Nielsen top ten originals chart has about 3 to 5 million hours viewed, so that’s the “ceiling” if a show never made the charts. The only reason I have data for the first week of Tokyo Vice is because I asked Nielsen specifically about it. Given that Tokyo Vice started at 1.5 million hours, it probably had lower numbers every week after the one week we have data. Anyone who even casually follows the ratings or this report knows that that’s really, really bad. 

As the podcaster pointed out, this same question just can’t be asked about theatrical films. 

No one ponders out loud what was more popular, Madame Web or Black Panther. You’d sound like don’t follow the film industry. But then again, I can’t really blame critics or reporters; streaming ratings literacy is pretty low in Hollywood right now, though things are changing.

Here’s the good news: none of this really matters to you, because you read the streaming ratings report, so you know the data. You know what’s working and what isn’t on streaming. You know how robust the data is (we’re nearing four years of Nielsen ratings; that’s a long time!). All I ask is that, if you hear someone speculating about the ratings, feel free to send this report to them.

To connect all of this to this week’s issue, Madame Web came out on streaming this week and its ratings will surprise you. We’ll cover that, plus Bridgerton versus Outer Range, Thelma The Unicorn and Netflix’s continuing animated kids troubles, another Ashley Madison documentary, the farewell linear ratings for a big sitcom, the ratings for another streaming-only awards shows, the number of new shows coming out on streaming each week (and the decline compared to previous years), all the flops, bombs and misses for the week, and a whole lot more.

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 Data, 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 March 13th to March 19th.)

Television – Two Big Shows Return, but None Bigger Than Bridgerton

Both Netflix and Amazon took big returning-show swings this week:

  • Bridgerton’s third season debuted on Netflix with four episodes.
  • Outer Range season two on Prime Video came out with seven binge-released episodes.

Before the ratings, let’s just note that the streamers keep experimenting with release styles. In 2022, Outer Range came out weekly, and now Amazon has moved back to the binge; though Reacher came our weekly at the end of 2023, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Them and Fallout were binge-released this year. Back in 2022, Netflix released all eight episodes of Bridgerton on the same day. This year, Netflix went all in on the batch release for successful second seasons; Cobra Kai and Emily in Paris are going batch-style later in 2024.

Let’s start with Bridgerton’s partial third season. Was it a success? Definitely. We have a new member of the 40 million hour club!

That’s the 34th highest single week since the start of 2021, a great start. Showlabs had monster numbers for it too: 21.6 million unique viewers. That’s the 21st single biggest week on Showlabs since 2021. Again, a big, big opening. 

Looking at all-time records—and we’re really talking superlative excellence here—the third season of Bridgerton doesn’t look like it will be Netflix’s biggest show of all time. Just looking at returning shows (so tossing out season one sensations like Squid Game and Wednesday), this batch of episodes lags somewhat behind Ozark and Outer Banks (two very un-buzzed about shows) and well behind Stranger Things (which is expected since that’s Netflix’s biggest show by far), but ahead of Ginny & Georgia, Virgin River and You.

Still, that’s way ahead of any returning show from any other streamer, though many of the biggest titles on other streamers come out weekly. The enthusiasm for Bridgerton was also such that the first season of Bridgerton made it on the Samba TV charts along with the third season, something that’s never happened before on Samba TV’s charts (which started last June).


So Bridgerton remains one of the top five shows in Netflix history in importance, and maybe as high as second if you factor in the success of the spinoff, Queen Charlotte. Meanwhile I love, love, love the release style, even if Netflix keeps hinting that the strikes are the only reason that they shifted strategies. Sure, weekly releases would do even better, but this is pretty damn close to weekly.

Outer Range, on the other hand, feels like a pricey miss. Look at the Samba TV charts above; the second season—even with a binge release—missed the charts. It did make the Nielsen charts, but at a low 7.2 million hours…

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

  • How Outer Range’s second season (and its release style) compares to its first…
  • Just how grim the news is for Netflix’s latest kids film…
  • The latest Disney datecdote showing how adult animation still struggles to reach all adults…
  • Madame Web’s surprisingly good opening week numbers…
  • How many fewer shows and films the streamers are coming out over time…
  • And just how short the time between theatrical and second windows is getting…
  • All the flops, bombs and misses for the week…
  • And a whole lot more…

please subscribe! We can only keep doing this great work with your support. If you’d like to read more about why you should subscribe, please read these posts about the Streaming Ratings Report, why it matters, why you need it, and why we cover streaming ratings best.

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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