Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Netflix’s 3.3 Billion Minutes Viewed in a Week for THE CROWN. What it might mean for Unscripted. Dan Salerno’s Takeaways

by Dan Salerno

Netflix users watched more than 3 billion minutes of The Crown in the week of Nov. 16-22”.

That’s The Hollywood Reporter’s headline for its coverage of Nielsen’s latest streaming rankings.

Nielsen noted that two thirds of The Crown’s viewers were over the age of 55.

That inspires a question:

Does the older demographic represent an opportunity for streamers not found on the linear channels?

The Old “No Oldies!” Model

  • Historically, almost every linear channel targets Adults 18-49 or A25-54, and/or Male/Female skews within those age brackets.
  • That’s how the channels satisfy their advertiser base.
  • Advertisers have shunned the 55+ demographic, largely based on presumptions of established brand loyalty.
  • A network’s success is based primarily on delivering the younger demographics to the advertisers.
  • The model has gone largely unchanged for decades.

The New “Oldies Also Pay!” Streaming Model 

  • However, older is not old in the SVOD environment: a 60 year old’s $12.99 has the same value as a 44 year old’s $12.99 and a 21 year old’s $12.99.
  • As the non-fiction brands, with their heavier 55+ audiences in tow, expand into the SVOD space, are there new opportunities to be found?
  • discovery+, with its signature brands HGTV, Food, TLC, ID, Discovery, Animal Planet, and more, will be launching in January and inclusive of A&E/History content.
  • National Geographic is already on the Disney+ service.
  • And Smithsonian Channel is on CBS All Access (rebranding as Paramount+ in 2021).
  • 30-45% of the total audience for each of these linear brands is 55+.  (Source)

What Does It Mean for Unscripted Producers?

  • Could a liability in the linear space become an asset in the digital?
  • As program strategy shifts to a Digital First/Linear Second business model, what impact would a 55+ opportunity have on commissioning choices?
  • History, Space, Aviation, Wildlife, Home, Pets/Vets do well with the 55+ viewers.
  • Could there be an increased appetite for these genres as the non-fiction based SVOD services kick into gear in 2021?
  • I believe the short answer is: Yes!  The devil is in the details still taking shape.

Watch this space for more of Dan’s context and analysis in 2021.

Peter’s Takeaways: What’s 3 Billion?

Fascinating analysis, thx Dan.

You reveal how the Covid-accelerated shift to streaming has knock on effects across the entire eco-system, and is shaping programming choices.

Here are my quick thoughts:

  • Not all streamers are subscriber-based.
    • Many like hulu, Peacock and the planned discovery+ offer both ad-free and ad-supported models.
    • I wonder if pressure from advertisers will slow down how the streamers open up to topics and treatments preferred by oldies.
  • Netflix keeps its data under tight wraps. What does “3 billion minutes” mean?
    • Netflix reports 190 million subs worldwide.
    • That’s 18 minutes of The Crown viewed per sub.
    • There are 40 episodes from Season 1-4.
    • That’s 26 seconds viewed per episode per subscriber for Netflix’s marquee show in the week of Nov 16-22.
  • Here’s a more meaningful way of looking at these numbers:
    • The Crown and therefore the Netflix UI (User Interface) enjoyed 3 billion subscriber exposures in one week.
    • That’s around 30 billion for The Crown season 4.
    • And that’s just one of Netflix’s cascade of original series now that they’re spending nearly $20 billion / year on programming.
    • Its a mind-boggling achievement for a company that not that long ago was dropping red DVD’s into my letterbox.
    • Next week, I’m moving on to the most spectacular streaming story of the year: Disney+‘s 90 million subscribers!

What THR wrote:

Netflix users watched more than 3 billion minutes of The Crown in the week of Nov. 16-22.

  • The Crown ascended to the throne in Nielsen’s streaming rankings for the week of Nov. 16, setting a record in the process.
  • The Netflix series had the highest single-week total to date in the streaming rankings, with viewers watching 3.36 billion minutes of the show from Nov. 16-22.
  • The previous high was 3.01 billion minutes for The Umbrella Academy from Aug. 3-9.
  • About two thirds of the total viewing time for The Crown was for season four, per Nielsen.
  • The second highest share of minutes went to season one, suggesting that some viewers used the new season as a catalyst to rewatch or start watching.
  • The ratings service also says that about two thirds of The Crown’s viewers were over age 55.

About Dan Salerno

  • Discovery and Nat Geo veteran exec Dan Salerno is our regular commentator on all things programming.
  • You can read Dan’s bio here – and listen to one of his several podcasts.

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