Stream on: Viewership insights from Q1 2022 streaming TV and movies
Content Marketing Manager
Jun 7, 2022
With so much content to choose from spread across streaming platforms, where and when to give your attention is an increasingly complex decision. And as cord cutting continues to accelerate, even more viewers are heading to streaming for their content. So what are Americans watching? We turned to our data to find out.
Read on for insights into Q1 2022 streaming movie and TV viewership – from which streaming movie releases came out on top to how audiences engage with TV series over the long term. Want even more insights? Download our Q1 2022 State of Viewership Report.
DIsney+ overtakes Netflix in Q1 with three of the top five SVOD films
Many streaming video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms have been moving away from same-day releases in favor of an exclusive theatrical window before films hit streaming, but how does this shift impact SVOD viewership? While two direct-to-streaming releases - Disney’s Turning Red and Netflix’s The Adam Project – saw the highest 4-day viewership of the quarter’s films, the top five was rounded out by three films with 45-day exclusive theatrical windows – The King’s Man, Free Guy, and The Eternals.
While no film reached the viewership of Q4 2021’s most watched film Red Notice (which saw 9.8M U.S. households tune in over its first 31 days), it was a big quarter for streaming nonetheless. And, while Q4’s leaderboard was all about Netflix, Q1 saw Disney+ bringing in big numbers with three films in the top five. In fact, Free Guy saw 5.2M U.S. households stream the film in its first month – the highest 31-day viewership of any Q1 film we looked at.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the two films with the highest 31-day viewership did see a dual release across two streaming platforms – Free Guy on Disney+ and HBO Max and The King’s Man on Hulu and HBO Max. With two ways to watch, and two subscriber bases to become a potential audience, it’s no surprise to see these two films in the top spots for the quarter.
Even top streaming television loses steam after 31 days
In light of the news that Netflix is considering introducing advertising to its historically ad-free platform, Samba TV reviewed data to see how audiences consume popular Netflix content and under what timeframe. Did tentpole series like Ozark, The Witcher, and Tiger King have a long audience engagement period or was engagement quick to fizzle once the buzz had passed? It turned out that, for the most recent premieres of the three series, over 95% of lifetime viewership occurred by the 58th day after release, suggesting subscriber shelf life was brief.
When it came time to dive into viewership of Q1’s biggest streaming hits, we expanded our research across streamers, looking at the top 10 streaming premieres of January 2022*. Similar to our Netflix-specific findings, by the 30th day after release, each premiere had driven more than 74% of its cumulative Q1 viewership. And by the 60th day, each had driven more than 92% of its Q1 viewership. This indicates that about three out of four viewers interested in watching the top shows do so within the first month of their release. While some shows may pick up a bit of steam in month two, the number discovering a series in month three is negligible.
Shows with weekly release schedules may see longer tail viewership
Of all the top January premieres, HBO’s Euphoria, Peacock’s Wolf Like Me, and HBO Max’s Peacemaker saw the longest tail viewership with about 24% to 26% of their Q1 viewership occurring after month one. This indicates that a relatively high percentage of viewers decided to watch the show in the months after their January premieres. All three shows featured a weekly release schedule giving new viewers a catalyst to watch, whereas series that release all episodes at once may not maintain the same resonance.
On the other hand, Archive 81 and The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window – two Netflix series which dropped all episodes at once – saw less than 10% of premiere viewership occur past day 30.
Shows past season one see higher initial premiere viewership
Series past season one generally saw the highest tune-in during the first two days after premiering, likely impacted by existing audiences eagerly anticipating the next season’s release. For example, the premieres of Search Party’s season five and The Righteous Gemstones’ season two drove 32% and 38% of cumulative Q1 viewership by day three respectively, while new shows such as Wolf Like Me and Archive 81 had driven less than 20% of cumulative Q1 viewership at that point.
One exception to this is the series premiere of How I Met Your Father, which drove 36% of cumulative Q1 viewership by day three. However, being a sequel to a popular long-running sitcom may have built anticipation.
How entertainment advertisers can make an impact
With new content regularly released on more and more platforms, attracting new users and getting them to stick around is more important than ever. As our State of Viewership Report indicates, more than 50% of Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video’s top program viewers watched just one program among the top 50 shows on each platform in Q1.
And, in the face of viewer fragmentation and increased cord-cutting, entertainment advertisers looking to make an impact face obvious challenges driving tune-in across traditional awareness media such as linear television.
As potential viewers move into Connected TV (CTV) viewing, entertainment advertisers should zero in on lower funnel, performance marketing-based metrics via CTV. By measuring outcomes and using that intel to more efficiently reach your audience where and when they are, entertainment advertisers can better inform future tune-in strategies. Get more tips on using performance measurement to drive tune-in by downloading our ebook.
Want more insights from Q1? Download our latest State of Viewership Report for a deep dive into how the world is consuming content in 2022, including a look at advertising viewership, trends in audience viewership consumption, tips on reaching millennial and Gen Z audiences, and how to prepare for the SVOD ceiling.