Predicting hit shows can be a tricky business, especially on streamers. The rivalry is rife — and the sheer amount of inventory is staggering. But some titles come with a built-in advantage: visibility.
Since December 12, the top two spots on Netflix belong to well-known families. Tim Burton’s “Wednesday” -- the most-watched title -- is first, followed by “Harry & Meghan,” the ongoing saga of the royals and the streamer’s biggest documentary debut.
The numbers are notable: Between December 12 and December 18, “Wednesday” was viewed for 174 million hours after almost a full month of streaming, while the final three episodes of “H&M” were watched for 97.7 million hours, outpacing the 81.5 million for the initial three.
Conclusion: Per “The Addams Family’s” theme song, "creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky" score. But the song ends with: "Strange / Deranged / the Addams family." Substitute Windsor for Addams, and it explains “Harry & Meghan.”
The duo, by all accounts, is escaping the strange, dysfunctional and often toxic family revealed in “The Crown.”
Even assuming creative liberties, the Windsors are never perceived as warm and cuddly. Or even mildly emotional, save for Diana. Now, her younger son has exposed the racist tweets and threats made against his wife, as well as the vitriol of the British press.
But why would anyone here care?
In 1776, the Founding Fathers signed a remarkable document: The Declaration of Independence. It states many things, including the new country’s decision to cut ties with the British monarchy. They envisioned a free republic, devoid of allegiance to the king. Yet, 246 years later, the Windsor fascination speaks for itself. Netflix viewers can’t all be English! Why are Americans so taken with any royal?
“Wednesday” is another story.
As the series explains, there is a mystery at Nevermore Academy, appropriately named for Edgar Allan Poe, and the youngest Addams wants to solve it. Wednesday is loaded with girl power. She’s smart, self-reliant, confident and her sardonic asides are both funny and lacerating. A petite girl garbed all in black, she’s a personification of Shakespeare’s “Midsummer’s Night Dream”: “Though she be but little she is fierce.”
“Fierce” is taken literally by Wednesday Addams — and it makes for a genuinely entertaining series.
Equally noteworthy is Netflix’s decision to share viewing figures. It used to keep such numbers secret. But starting in November, its performance is being reported by BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board). Part of the reason is the introduction of its new, ad-supported tier.
In addition, in Q2, the streamer lost 1 million viewers, surpassed by Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ in popularity. While Netflix’s management has traditionally spent billions on new productions, the realities of the TV business are bottom line. The streamer has to determine if cost is accompanied by value, measured in both ad and eyeball terms.
While forecasts of future hits are not an exact science, these two disparate shows offer some guidance.
Truth may be stranger than fiction, but for my money, clever dialogue and twisted plot lines, coupled with singular production design, à la “Wednesday,” is the real winner.