Weekly Releases Take Back the Ratings Spotlight, Plus 'The Night Agent' vs. 'Rabbit Hole' vs. 'Great Expectations'
The Streaming Ratings Report for 21-Apr-2023
In the last few weeks, the streaming companies have all picked up their TV game. We’re got another juicy set of shows to look at this week—remember: the week starting 20-March—with big titles from each streamer. So who’s set to win: Great Expectations from Hulu, Rabbit Hole from Paramount+, or The Night Agent from Netflix?
But I’m not actually going to start with any of those TV shows. Instead, I want to look at another topic that got cut for space from last week’s Streaming Ratings Report: the success of some popular “weekly” TV shows: Ted Lasso, Star Trek: Picard, The Last of Us, and The Mandalorian (along with one other previous “dog not barking”). Keep reading for all of that, plus a look at theatrically-released films switching streamers, Nielsen’s The Gauge for March, Knock at the Cabin on Peacock, more Top Gun: Maverick data, 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 March 20th to March 26th.)
Television - The Return of Popular “Weekly” Series
For the last two weeks, at least three weekly-released series—which I define as any series which puts out episodes in three or more batches—made the Nielsen “Originals” ratings charts. If you include the top show on premium cable—an “acquired series” in Nielsen’s methodology—that’s quite a batch of shows, including…
Ted Lasso’s third season on Apple TV+ (its debut)
The Mandalorian’s third season on Disney+ (in its fourth week in the ratings)
Star Trek: Picard’s third season on Paramount+ (in its sixth week)
The Last of Us’s first season finally ended its run on 12-March.1
To wit, another “weekly” series—technically it came out in four batches—joined the charts this week, Daisy Jones & The Six:
First, here’s a quick comparison of these weekly shows to some other weekly series, starting with first seasons:
And here’s second or third seasons, of which we naturally have fewer examples:
Overall, The Mandalorian remains a top performer among weekly releases, though it seems to have dropped down a pinch—just maybe—in terms of total hours compared to its second season. But we’re talking a small drop which may just be noise in the data. (Look at the TV Time data below to see dominance.)
Ted Lasso, on the other hand, seems to be doing almost exactly as well as its last season, with two weeks at 9.0 and 9.5 million hours. (One caveat to the Ted Lasso numbers is that creators definitely did the “we’re successful so we’re making the episodes longer” thing, since a bunch of season three’s episodes are now forty minutes or longer, a “broadcast hour” if you will.) As these numbers show, it’s clearly Apple TV+’s only must-watch show and by a lot. I’d add that, according to Samba TV, it had 870K viewers through five days, which is lower than you’d guess and probably smaller than it would be on other, bigger platforms if it were streamed there. (Honestly, if Warner Bros. had sold this to its own streamer, HBO Max, this would be gigantic.) To its credit, though, that Samba TV score is about the same as The Mandalorian, so maybe the different lengths account for the total hours viewed difference.
These shows also dominated the TV Time charts; look at the Mando and Ted Lasso’s hold on the top spots:
Meanwhile, you can see Daisy Jones & The Six just sneaking onto TV Time. After a strong 2022, Prime Video hadn’t really had a breakout hit in 2023 yet. Carnival Row only made TV Time for one week and The Legend of Vox Machina made it for two weeks.
As I’ll explain below, I’m adding a new section to my “Dogs Not Barking” category because we have more data now; a bunch of shows are under-performers (misses, flops or bombs), but aren’t true DNBs, since they make one ratings chart for one week. I’d put Daisy Jones in this category: it looks expensive, and has big talent behind it, but one week on the Nielsen charts (with only 5.6 million hours) and one week on TV Time means that it’s definitely still a miss, not a hit. Even though we have two data points for this show, those data points are bad. This show is definitely a miss, but maybe a flop.
Another show that did well (but not blow-us-out-of-the-water well) is Star Trek: Picard. To its credit, it did make the Nielsen charts, but so far only for one week, with 5.2 million hours. (It made it the week of 13-March, but missed 20-March, in its sixth week of release.) Still, it made the charts last week so we had some idea of how well it was doing in viewership terms. We know it did well on TV Time’s interest metric, but does that translate to actual viewership? Yes. Just not gigantic numbers. (Again, this might be the smaller streamer/Paramount+ tax.)
This week, we also got a fun surprise on the Prime Video charts delivered by ShowLabs. Look: