Nielsen: Netflix’s ‘The Witcher,’ ‘Emily in Paris’ Dominated Christmas Week Streaming

Nielsen said a record 183 billion viewing minutes were streamed on household televisions in the U.S. during Christmas week 2021 — led by Netflix’s “The Witcher” and second-season debut of “Emily in Paris.”

“The Witcher,” which stars Henry Cavill in the fantasy series, saw viewership increase 25% to 2.7 billion minutes — in its second week of release. The new season of “Emily in Paris,” starring Lily Collins, scored big with female streamers (78% audience share), generating 939 million minutes to edge out the season finale of “Hawkeye,” also with 939 million minutes.

“The big news [that week] was a lot of new content introduced,” Brian Fuhrer, SVP of product strategy at Nielsen, said on the videocast. “It looks like ‘Emily’ and ‘Hawkeye’ tied, but unrounded, ‘Emily’ did just beat ‘Hawkeye’ for No. 2.”

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Notably, Fuhrer said the season-ending episode of “Hawkeye,” which features Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series, was the most-watched for the Disney+ program.

“It built steam, built buzz over the last two or three episodes,” Fuhrer said.

The same trend applied to Amazon Prime Video’s “The Wheel of Time,” which saw its weekly viewing minutes increase more than 30% to 638 million minutes for the season-ending eighth episode.

Among feature films, Prime Video’s Being the Ricardos topped all movies with 604 million minutes streamed watching Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem play Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnaz in the former TV stars’ complicated business/personal relationship.

“Seventy percent of the audience was over 50, with 37% of that percentile over the age of 65,” Fuhrer said, adding that Prime Video content tends to trend toward older demos.

Being the Ricardos was definitely red meat for that group,” he said.

Source: Nielsen Streaming Content Ratings (Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix and Apple TV+), Nielsen National TV Panel, U.S. Viewing through Television.

Netflix Bosses Say Series Cancellations on Par With Industry Standards

Netflix has gained a reputation in recent years for pulling the plug on a higher number of original series compared with other streamers and TV networks. Speaking Nov. 11 at the 25th annual Paley Center International Council Summit, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and Bela Bajaria, head of global TV, called the characterization misleading as the streamer goes to market with full first-seasons compared with pilots at the networks.

Bajaria said Netflix’s original program legacy offering all episodes of series upfront lends itself to determining whether a program has legs to run beyond the first season. Bajaria did not reveal the analysis involved in determining when a show gets cut.

“It’s always painful to cancel a show, and nobody wants to do that,” she said.

The streamer this year decided not to greenlight second seasons of space drama “Away,” “Teenage Bounty Hunters,” “Spinning Out,” “AJ and the Queen,” “Messiah,” “Ashley Garcia: Genius in Love,” “October Faction,” “V Wars,” “I Am Not Okay With This” and “The Society,” among others

Meanwhile, Netflix ordered a second season of “Emily in Paris,” the former Paramount content licensed to Netflix over the summer. It ranks among Netflix’s Top 10 streamed shows, according to Nielsen. It also approved a third season of superhero show “The Umbrella Academy,” and a second second season of “Raising Dion,” about a widowed mom who sets out to solve the mystery surrounding her young son’s emerging superpowers while keeping his extraordinary gift under wraps.

“We actually have a renewal rate of 67%, which is [the] industry standard,” Bajaria said.  “You have to look at ‘The Crown,’ with season four launching now, ‘Grace & Frankie’ and ‘The Ranch,’ we’ve had long-running shows and we’re always going to have a mix that are great to be told in a limited series form and shows that go on for multiple seasons.”

Sarandos contends that Netflix’s high profile results in news being made whenever the streamer cancels a program. The veteran CCO said the old TV business model of hoping a series reached 100 episodes or four seasons to qualify for syndication are over.

“I think many shows can be a success for being exactly what they are and you could tell that story in two seasons or one season or five seasons,” Sarandos said. “I think it gets talked about so much because [we are] measured against the old way of doing things.”