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May 18, 2023

Samba TV Analysis Examines Streaming Release Strategies to Maximize Viewership


SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, 2023 — Samba TV, the leading global provider of television technology and omniscreen advertising and analytics, today released an analysis of the top streaming programs of 2022 to uncover viewership trends of differing streaming release models. The analysis consisted of programs with various distribution models, including bulk releases, two-part drops, and weekly episodes.

Samba TV’s analysis found programs leveraging a weekly release model gained more viewers over time, making this rollout appear to be the best choice for content platforms looking to maximize total viewership. On the other hand, shows that released all episodes in bulk were most likely to retain fans throughout the season, making the model of dropping all episodes at once ideal for streamers looking to maximize initial buzz and keep audiences binging.

Looking at some of the top hits of the year, HBO’s “House of the Dragon” drove interest each week of its season with new episode drops, which ultimately culminated in the highest reach, while Netflix’s bulk-release of “Wednesday” generated the strongest buzz in its first 50 days and earned the top spot based on premiere viewership for the year.

“In the battle among streaming providers, success is defined by various metrics: maximizing subscribers, platform engagement, and show audience,” said Samba TV co-founder and CEO Ashwin Navin. “Comparing Netflix's ‘Wednesday’ and HBO's ‘House of the Dragon’ illustrates two different approaches that draw massive audiences, with an intense focus on how to captivate younger, diverse viewers. As the streaming landscape rapidly evolves, it's essential to develop innovative, data-driven ways to break away from the pack.”

Key Findings  

  • Netflix’s “Wednesday” was the number one premiere of 2022. By its 50th day of release, a key measurement benchmark, “Wednesday” was the most-viewed premiere episode of the year, drawing 8.7M households and surpassing “House of the Dragon” premiere viewership of 8.4M households.
  • HBO’s “House of the Dragon” was the number one show of 2022 based on total deduplicated household viewership across all episodes, generating the greatest viewership at 16.3M households compared to “Wednesday” with 12.2M households.
  • Bulk-release shows drove new viewership over time at a lower rate than weekly releases, but were more likely to retain their initial fans throughout the season. The average retention rate between premiere and finale viewership (based on viewership within the first 50 days) for bulk release shows was 47% across the 9 bulk release shows within the 20 shows analyzed. Among these 20 shows, 7 out of the top 10 highest retention rate shows released episodes in bulk as opposed to weekly or in two parts.
  • In general, shows with weekly episode drops gained more new viewers over time. The ongoing buzz generated by new episodes released each week caused many of the shows with weekly episode releases to more than double their viewership between premiere and full-season. The average lift between premiere and total viewership for the 8 weekly release shows within the 20 shows analyzed was 119%. 
  • The two-part release model shows potential to maximize the retention benefits of bulk releases, along with the weekly release model’s ability to maximize total unique tune-ins throughout the season. Across the shows with two-part drops, there was an average higher lift from premiere to total viewership than bulk-release shows (58% vs. 45%). Additionally, the average retention rate from premiere to finale was higher than weekly release shows, suggesting that two-part releases may present a third way for streamers to partially reap the benefits of both release models, sacrificing neither total household viewership nor retention rate while also feeding the strong appetite binge watchers have for bulk release drops. 

Note: Total viewership defined as deduplicated households that watched any episode of a show’s season within 103 days after the show’s premiere date (103 chosen to account for “Harry & Meghan” premiere date of 12/8/22). 

About Samba TV‍

Samba TV has transformed the TV from a pane of glass on the wall to a window into the heart of audiences. We are the global leader in television technology powering real-time insights and audience targeting to enable unparalleled marketing efficiency and effectiveness. Our proprietary first-party data from tens of millions of opted-in televisions, across more than 20 TV brands sold in over 100 countries, provides advertisers and media companies a unified view of the entire consumer journey. Our independent currency-grade measurement has future-proofed advertising for the next generation, empowering advertisers to connect with their audiences on any platform, across every screen.

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