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Report: Ratings for Streaming Originals Down to Start 2023; Can Streamers Afford to be Seasonal in Age of Cycling?

David Satin

Original programming is key for any streaming service. Originals help streamers attract new users and to keep the subscribers that they already have, especially if the shows are of good quality and/or come from established IPs. Media companies know this quite well, which is why providers like Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery are so focused on developing new original series and movies based on popular franchises that they already own.

So far in 2023, however, ratings for original series have been down across the streaming industry. A report from Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw indicates that year-over-year ratings for popular streaming originals have fallen around 8%. In the first seven days of February, the top 10 original streaming shows drew a smaller audience than at any point since December 2021.

Shows like Peacock’s “Poker Face” and Prime Video’s “Jack Ryan” are helping to keep the market plugging along, but mega-hits have been few and far between in recent weeks. “The Last of Us” doesn’t technically count, since it appears on the linear HBO channel at the same time it streams on HBO Max every Sunday. The debut of the new season of “The Mandalorian” on Disney+ will assuredly help ratings improve, but as streamers industry-wide slow down their content spends, users might want to get used to a more seasonal, cyclical approach to the release of new series.

But is that really the best path forward for the industry? A recent survey found that 64% of people have signed up for a streaming service solely to watch a single show. The data shows that only 17% of those users cancel the service after finishing that series, but that trend could be changing as the streaming market reaches its saturation point.

Data from a February Samba TV report shows that 69% of American streaming customers are thinking about signing up for a service to watch a single show, then canceling their subscription before being billed for another month. This behavior is called cycling, and it shows why streamers have to be careful about spacing out popular original series too much. On-demand video providers can’t afford to move too closely to live TV streaming services that see big waves of new users during football season, then a rash of cancelations after it ends. Similarly, the traditional linear TV seasonal schedule saw new seasons launch in the fall and wrap up toward the tail-end of summer. Over time, with the advent of cable, more shows launched in early winter, but the summer was always a slow period for TV; streaming services likely can’t afford to take three months off from releasing engaging content.

However, that also doesn’t mean that streaming services can afford to turn out a new, major hit original series every month. Netflix’s bosses might want to release a “Squid Game” or “Wednesday” every week, but the data from Bloomberg highlights the importance of streaming services having a big library of archival content to fall back on. Creating hit originals is expensive, and there are more places to see new shows than ever before, so streamers have to be strategic with their new release schedules.

The risk of cycling ensures that on-demand streaming won’t adopt the seasonal patterns of live TV, despite the expense of keeping content coming all year. The first couple of months of 2023 may have seen a slowdown in new original streaming releases, but users shouldn’t expect to see a trend of streamers only releasing new series at specific times of the year.


Netflix is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 3,000+ movies, 2,000+ TV Shows, and Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, Squid Game, The Crown, Tiger King, and Bridgerton. They are constantly adding new shows and movies. Some of their Academy Award-winning exclusives include Roma, Marriage Story, Mank, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

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Netflix spends more money on content than any other streaming service meaning that you get more value for the monthly fee.


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