Introducing the Streaming Ratings Report Paywall
What it Is, Why You Need It, Why I Need It, and How Much It Costs
When I first started publicly writing about the business of entertainment, I focused on strategy. Specifically, the strategy of the streaming wars. Along the way, I noticed a glaring gap in the coverage of the “streaming wars”. As I’ve written before, “content is king”. If I had to put a percentage on it, I’d say content (both making it or sitting on a giant pile of it) will determine at least 50% (if not more) of the battle to “win” the streaming wars.
But no one knew what was doing well!
Content is at least half the battle…and we had no idea who was winning that battle. There were no ratings!
The operative word being “were”, since more and more companies rushed in to fill this gap. Nielsen, TV Time, Samba TV, Just Watch, Parrot Analytics, Comscore, Reelgood, Digitali, Diesel Labs…and that’s just off the top of my head. Even Netflix started releasing their data!
So I collected as much data as I could and set out to answer who is winning, who is losing, and what is popular in the content battlefield of the streaming wars. And I’ve been sending out a weekly report since March of last year that I call “The Streaming Ratings Report”.
Now it’s time to take that project to the next level. Specifically, a paid level. Since 2018, I have published hundreds of articles, and I haven’t charged a penny. Frankly, the last four calendar years have been great for building a brand and a following.
But I can’t pay my mortgage on a following alone.
Of anything I write, my weekly “Streaming Ratings Report” unlocks tremendous value for anyone working in Hollywood, from CEOs running studios to aspiring screenwriters trying to break in. Today, I want to explain not just why you should subscribe to my newsletter, but why you need to.
(Also, while I published my Streaming Ratings Report last Friday, I didn’t send it out via Substack yet. If you want to read The Kardashians on Hulu and Outer Range on Prime Video, along with all the other ratings data, click here.)
For a long time, in the streaming wars, we literally had no idea how well content was performing, which redounded to the big steamers benefit. We couldn't even guess how many folks were watching a given TV series or film on Netflix, Prime Video or Hulu. I could quote many people asserting this, since I’ve heard not one, not two, but three CEOs or editors of major entertainment websites complain that no one knows what’s popular in streaming. Instead, here’s a selection of headlines in major trades:
To rebut all of them in one go, that just isn’t true anymore! (And that first headline is from January!)
In the past few years, the ratings landscape has changed dramatically, so much so much so that I now call this the “steaming ratings era”. Starting in March of 2020, Netflix started releasing weekly top ten lists. Nielsen started releasing a weekly U.S. top ten list too. Then several more streaming analytics firms began releasing select data points as well. Some of those firms moved into also releasing weekly updates, like TV Time, Just Watch and Parrot Analytics.
This is both the best of times and worst of times for data analysis. While we have more data than ever, different companies use different measurements, with different definitions, on different sample sizes and choose to release their data irregularly.
All of which, in some ways, leaves folks more confused than when we knew nothing.
The Solution? Subscribe to The EntStrategyGuy Streaming Ratings Report
My solution is a regularly published newsletter that collates the best streaming ratings data into one single article. This report is...
1. Regular (Weekly)
2. Comprehensive, yet concise (around 2,000 words, covering both TV and film)
3. Rigorous (Featuring regular reporting, not haphazard anecdotes)
4. Insightful (Beyond just numbers, I explain the historical performance and context.)
While my report heavily uses Nielsen’s weekly ratings for the U.S., I also use IMDb ratings, TV Time weekly charts, Samba TV household numbers, Google Trends search interest, Netflix’s global data and more. And I put it in a context in a way no other trade outlet can match. And I’ll keep adding data sources.
Each week the streaming ratings report will cover:
Where: The U.S.A.
What: Viewership, measured by total hours or subscribers watching content.
What: TV and film
When: From 2020 onwards
The Product: What You Get and How Much It Will Cost
I’ll be sending the Streaming Ratings Report (at Entertainment.Substack.com) to subscribers every week in one or two parts. The newsletter will have two major sections, "Film" and "TV", with smaller subsections like “Anecdata” and “Competition”.
I’m using Substack because I already have thousands of subscribers and migrating everyone to a new platform would be too much of a headache. I’ll still keep my own independent website and some full articles will be hosted there.
I’ll continue to write bi-weekly strategy columns, “visuals of the week”, and guest articles at The Ankler (behind their paywall). Some of these will stay free, but some will live behind my or The Ankler’s paywalls. I’ll provide links in my Streaming Ratings Reports to everything I write (so I don’t spam your inbox, but you’ll stay informed without checking the website regularly).
If I’m successful, I’ll go above and beyond for subscribers. This means writing deep dives into content and individual streamers. And if I’m really successful, this will mean free mini-books too. (But I’m only promising the weekly newsletter, which will go out at least 48 times per year, on a Friday or Monday in one or two parts.)
Do I have even bigger dreams? Absolutely. Wait and see. Though if you sign up, they’re much more likely to happen!
And now, here comes the ask: I’m charging $14 per month, or $140 per year for this service. Yes, that’s high. (Though cheaper than a Netflix or HBO subscription now!) But the price is low enough that any person in, on, or around Hollywood can afford it. (And any executive can expense it!). I’d add: for a comprehensive, in-depth, regular streaming article, this is the lowest price on the market period. If you can’t afford thousands of dollars for a Nielsen subscription, you can spend the price of a lunch at Spago’s on this.
You’ll only have four weeks before the paywall goes up, but you can sign up now.
Sign-Up Now to Get the “Founder’s Price”
For the next four weeks—ending on 16-June-2022, when the paywall officially goes up—I’m offering a special price: the “Founders" price. If you subscribe to an annual subscription, you’ll be able to get my newsletter for $120 per year as long as you never cancel or unsubscribe. Trust me, I don’t want to get stuck in an endless cycle of promotions. (See Hulu or DirecTV for example…)
But this one time I want to reward as many people who were with me from the beginning.
So if you sign up now, you’ll get the EntStrategyGuy for the lowest price I’ll ever offer. What’s holding you back?
Who Should Subscribe?
You may think, “But I read The Hollywood Reporter, Variety or Deadline for free already. They cover the streaming ratings occasionally. Why do I need this?”
Because they don’t do a good enough job!
Frankly, I don’t think anyone tracks the content battlefield as well as I do. Or putting the data into the context that is urgently needed. Instead of reading dozens of articles that tell contradictory stories, I put the streaming ratings into one simple context.
For example, say you’re a studio executive. You read in the trades that Jupiter’s Legacy debuted to 11.6 million hours. Is that good? Or bad? The trades won’t tell you. My report will. (For the record, of season one launches, it ranked as the 25th highest show through four weeks, or roughly the 22nd percentile.)
Or say you’re an independent producer. Do you have a full-time research team analyzing ratings data? Nope. My report will provide that.
What about folks who work in research for a living? Why do you need this report? Because I may provide insights or find data points you or your team missed.
I could see the folks at streamers saying they don’t need this either. “I know what is doing well on my platform” they could say. But what about your competitors? My report provides that information.
Producers, creators, development executives, talent, reporters and more need to know what’s successful and what isn’t on streaming platforms. Basically, everyone in Hollywood, New York, London, Mumbai, Seoul, and beyond needs this report!
So sign up. Seriously, what’s holding you back?
Who Am I?
As a former strategy exec at a major streamer, I used to live and breath streaming ratings data for our streamer. Not to toot my own horn, but I was the guy who figured out what all our data meant and then taught that to the rest of the company. I was the data guy. As such, I also saw first hand the information asymmetry gap between the streamers and the rest of Hollywood (including the press). I know the tricks.
I’d add, even with all the data our streamer had, I knew how little I knew about our competitors. In other words, I’m writing the report I wish I had at the time.
Frankly, to write this report well someone needs to have the data chops to analyze the data, the experience in streaming ratings to know what means what, and the writing ability to explain it as simply (but with details) as needed. Not to mention, I love solving this ratings problem each week. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t isn’t easy, but it’s my passion to decode it each week.
But Entertainment Strategy Guy…why now?
To quote The Chrystal Method, “Now is the time.”
Already, I’ve built a tiny team. Specifically, I have an editor/researcher working part-time who helps edit the articles, collects and organizes new data, and does a ton of little things. I also have a volunteer copyeditor I’d love to pay. And I’ve been unpaid nearly this whole time.
Frankly, if I can’t monetize this newsletter as it is, I have to return to the world of consulting gigs. While I get a fair number of requests for that, I turn most of them down. If I do consulting work, that frankly means less time analyzing ratings data for you—not to mention my strategy articles—and more time thinking for private companies.
Thank You For Everything So Far and In the Future
To get a bit a personal, I just want to say thank you in advance. I’m not some monolithic corporation asking for your money; I’m a guy who stopped collecting Hollywood paychecks to try to fill a niche I saw in the entertainment business market. And few people will work harder than me, because I love combining data analysis and content strategy.
So many people have already helped this little effort by liking, subscribing and sharing. And if you did, thank you.
I see this as a partnership. Together, we’ll unlock incredible value in the streaming ratings reports and understand the streaming wars at a much deeper level.
But yes, I am asking you for money. A subscription product will only work for subscribers, and as someone offering some of the highest value, most impactful, insights-delivering, data-driven, not buzzword-filled, synergistic, content to help you make better decisions, then what are you waiting for?