By Kent R. Kroeger (November 10, 2022)
“Shows like The Rings of Power and She-Hulk have been runaway successes — why can’t keyboard warriors admit it?” Marc Burrows of The New Stateman asked his readers?
Perhaps because it is not clear that they are ‘runaway’ hits?
According to Nielsen Media Research, She-Hulk attracted 390 million viewing minutes for its premiere episode in the week ending Aug. 28, and a total of 3.01 billion viewing minutes over its first eight episodes from Aug. 15 to Oct. 9 (see Figure 1 below).
The Rings of Power, in turn, garnered 1.25 billion viewing minutes in its two-episode premiere week, and a total of 6.38 billion viewing minutes over its first six episodes from Aug. 15 to Oct. 9 (see Figure 1).
Do those audience numbers qualify as ‘runaway’ hits? Who makes that judgment? To borrow some phrasing from late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, I think I know a ‘runaway’ hit when I see it.
And it is not obvious that She-Hulk or Rings qualify as hits.
Figure 1: Nielsen Streaming Ratings for Selected TV Shows (Aug. 15 — Oct. 9, 2022)
Compare She-Hulk’s and Rings’ numbers to Netflix’s Ozark that attracted 2.9 billion viewing minutes in its 2022 Season 4 debut week (7 episodes) and 2.6 billion viewing minutes in its Season 4 Part 2 debut week (7 episodes).
Likewise, Netflix’s Stranger Things sucked up 5.1 billion viewing minutes in its 2022 Season 4 debut week (7 episodes) and 5.9 billion viewing minutes with the debut of its final two Season 4 episodes.
Stranger Things and Ozark are ‘runaway hits.’ But She-Hulk and The Rings of Power? There remain questions. The problem with declaring She-Hulk and Rings ‘runaway’ hits is that the streaming TV industry does not have an authoritative measurement service or a standard way of releasing new shows. For example, She-Hulk was released one new episode per week, while Stranger Things released its first seven Season 4 episodes all at once. Stranger Things’ debut week viewing…