American Football Takes on British TV Plus The Morning Show, Elemental and Fast X
The Streaming Ratings Report for 13-Oct-2023
As I’ve said a few times recently, the pace of big, buzzy streaming releases really seems to have slowed down over the last few weeks...then this week, there were a ton of new TV shows! But almost all of them were foreign imports from other English-speaking countries:
Wilderness on Prime Video - UK
The Gold on Paramount+ - UK
Better on Hulu - UK
Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star on Netflix - UK
Surviving Summer on Netflix - Australia
Even The CW had a UK import!
It’s tough to tell if this would have happened anyway, sans strikes, or if the streamers pivoted to global, English-language content due to the strikes. My gut is the latter, but I can’t prove it.
In addition to the British Streaming Invasion, we’ve got the return of Thursday Night Football (good news for Prime Video), the return of The Morning Show (good news for Apple TV+) and the arrival of comeback kid of the summer box office. Elemental (good news for Disney+). Those stories plus Fast X on Peacock, Reelgood’s share of viewership (which isn’t good for one particular streamer), a datecdote I missed on HBO, and more.
(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 September 11th to September 17th.)
Sports - NFL Thursday Night Football on Amazon
The biggest debut of the week is…not a scripted TV show or film. The NFL is back on streaming, which means it’s going to be the first or second biggest show on streaming for the next few months:
(I usually include this “Nielsen Top 30” list each week at the end of the report. To explain it for new readers, this isn’t the actual top 30 shows in streaming each week, but Nielsen’s three top ten lists put in order. So I put “UNK” next to shows that we don’t know their total rank. Then I color-code the list by streamer)
(Oh, and while we’re talking Nielsen’s top thirty list, when I say the “streaming wars are getting more competitive”, this is partially what I mean. Look at how “colorful” that chart is! I give each streamer their own color, and this week seven different streamers made the charts. Over the last few months, the narrative that “Netflix has already won the streaming wars” returned in full force, and their stock price agrees. Looking at this chart, I wonder if that’s not a “trailing” indicator and if we might see another change in the narrative over the next 12 to 18 months. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…)
The initial story line is that ratings are up for Thursday Night Football. Amazon put out that 15.05 million viewers watched according to Nielsen, but about 1.76 million of those were traditional linear TV,1 so about 13.3 million watched the roughly three hour broadcast on streaming. I also remove “out-of-home” viewing (about 5%), to make the comparison with TNF to other streaming shows more “apples-to-apples” so by my reckoning, that’s roughly 38.3 million hours, the top show on streaming.
Yeah, that’s up compared to last year. By a good percentage (12%) too.
While those are great numbers for streaming, it’s worth noting that, depending on the game, this rating is lower than traditional linear football ratings, on average. The first Monday Night Football game averaged 22.6 million viewers across ABC, ESPN and ESPN 2, or roughly 82.5 million hours across streaming and linear TV. The Sunday Night week 1 game averaged 21.8 million viewers (65.4 total hours). And the opening game on NBC for Thursday night of week one averaged 27.5 million viewers on streaming and linear TV, or 22.6 million hours. That delta between Thursday Night Football and other primetime games is still the gap between cord-cutters and cable plus streaming households, basically.
(That comparison chart above includes Amazon’s Thursday Night Football linear ratings as well.)
If you’re looking at the longer term, changes in NFL ratings up or down by 10% or even 20% aren’t much. For some context, here’s the NFL’s average viewership over the last decade or so:
We have a long football season ahead of us, so let’s avoid drawing too many conclusions from one week of data. (Though it looks like Amazon’s ratings are genuinely up so far this year.)
Television - Apple TV+ Gets Another Show on the Charts - The Morning Show
We had a surfeit of topics for the “mini-dive” portion of the streaming ratings report this week—Thursday Night Football, Elemental vs Fast X, the British Invasion—but I have to talk about Apple TV+’s The Morning Show. Season three debuted on Wednesday 13-Sep, and this show, in its third season, finally (finally!) It made the Nielsen charts!
And hey look, it made the Samba TV Top Ten charts too!
But is this show a hit?
Not every show that makes the Nielsen, Samba TV, Showlabs or TV Time charts is a “hit”. (And yes, I love that I can use multiple data sources to figure these things out!) For example, The Morning Show had 5.8 million hours viewed, which would place it in 36th place out of 56 season three shows in my data set. Not exactly “great”. Samba TV also provided a specific number for the debut, letting us know that 375K households watched, down about 50K from last season. In the olden days, that would be low for a mid-tier cable channel, not a “hit” show.
The counter is that it’s on Apple TV+, the second or third smallest streamer. (I have their total subscribers ahead of Starz and AMC+, though it potentially loses billions more each year to get those five to six extra million customers.) But that size still matters in judging success for individual shows. The lack of reach makes it that much harder for individual series to make a total viewership chart like Nielsen or Samba TV’s. As a reminder, this is only the third Apple TV+ series (and fourth season) to make the charts.
So Apple TV+ does have another successful show, though still much smaller than other streamers. It’s another “hit for them”, a distinction that matters. The other factor that I can’t neglect is that this think feels…super pricey. The talent alone (Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Jon Hamm, Steve Carell) did not come cheap.
TV - The “Miss” of the Week is…UK Imports
The “Miss of the Week” is...TV shows from the UK.
I know, it sounds odd, but as I mentioned in the introduction, presumably due to the strike, a whole bunch of UK or Aussie shows came to American streaming this week...and none of them made the charts, aside from one reality show. (Glow Up on Netflix.) Among all of these candidates, I can’t really pick a winner/loser. Prime Video’s Wilderness, starring Jenna Coleman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, is probably the biggest miss. (It made Showlabs, but only in fifth place among Prime Video shows.) Then again, The Gold on Paramount+, starring Hugh Bonneville and Dominic Cooper, is probably equally notable. There was also Better on Hulu, another UK crime show. Not to be left out, Netflix’s Aussie YA drama, Surviving Summer, didn’t make the charts. That’s a lot of misses!
Recently, I saw a Deadline article where Mediawan bragged that they’ve hacked the TV production process, since they can make shows in Greece, Spain, and elsewhere in Europe for half the price of American productions. Well, if US audiences aren’t even watching English-language shows from other countries, what hope to foreign language TV shows have? As is, I still don’t think these shows travel as well as folks assume.