Streaming Ratings Surprisingly Dipped Post-Super Bowl; Are Streamers Missing Opportunity by Focusing on Emmys?
The NFL season has been over for more than a month, but that hasn’t led to a marked upswing in viewership for streaming services. In fact, according to new data from Nielsen, charted by Axios, streamers are currently seeing the opposite: ratings are trending down, and have been since peaking around the holidays.
On January 1, streaming’s share of total TV consumption in the United States peaked at 38%. After that date, it has seen a steady decline. By February 1, streaming made up 34.3% of the total TV number of hours watched in the U.S. The NFL season always draws big ratings for linear TV, but the winding down of the playoffs and the passing of the Super Bowl should have given streamers a chance to dominate the TV landscape, but that’s not the way it shook out.
In the weeks following the Super Bowl, there were hardly any major streaming TV releases, and HBO’s “The Last of Us” essentially had its way with streaming viewers. The only prestige show to launch between the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards on March 12 was “Shrinking” on Apple TV+, which wrapped up its first season this week. Instead, streaming services have mostly held back their biggest offerings, and are just now starting to unleash new seasons of hit shows like “The Mandalorian,” “Succession” and “Yellowjackets.”
Part of the reason for that apparent delay is the desire to be at the front of voters’ minds for 2023’s Emmy Awards. The awards take place in September, but in order to be considered, a show must have aired six episodes (or all of its episodes if its run is shorter) between June 1, 2022 and May 31, 2023. So, to be fresh in the minds of voters, many prestige streaming releases are being reserved until spring in order to be among the most recent things that voters will have seen when determining nominations.
The current slide in streaming ratings shows that could be a big mistake. Of course, Emmy wins bring press attention and prestige to a show, but the data clearly demonstrates that the post-Super Bowl viewing window is a big opportunity that streamers are currently neglecting. It’s not as if linear TV rebounded in that time either; the biggest gains in share of total TV viewing time in late February belonged to “other” sources like YouTube and TikTok.
The glut of Emmy-seeking content also makes it difficult for shows to stand out; therefore if a series is released in late spring and doesn’t end up being an Emmys darling, then there is a significant chance that it will have missed its opportunity to find an audience with its choice to chase awards that it lost out on.
It could benefit all streamers to take advantage of the relative dead time after the Big Game. Releasing a big, buzzy series in that timeframe could actually help a service stand out against the competition, as it will dominate the media landscape instead of waiting another few weeks when every company will have a prestige show coming out drowning viewers in options that they might never get to.
As big-name series continue to roll out new seasons in the coming weeks, it’s highly likely that streaming ratings will rebound. But next year it would behoove services to drop some new releases after the Super Bowl to unleash in order to get their shows out before things get crowded in April and May. For streamers that do that, there’s a great chance to dominate an otherwise quiet period in the TV calendar.