Jupiter’s Legacy commands the Nielsens for the second week of May, yet still it got cancelled. We wonder why…
First an apology. Our technical team at Cultbox decided to port our state of the art data analytic suite from COBOL 60 to FORTRAN 77, meaning our weekly look behind the Nielsen numbers had to wait for somebody to remember how to switch on the punched card machine we keep in the cellar just in case. In the end we switched to our state of the art backup data centre hidden inside an Icelandic mountain to process the data. The centre of conversation is Jupiter’s Legacy and why it got cancelled, given the numbers.
The Nielsen data
As ever we’ve taken the data from Nielsen and added a couple of columns to allow us to estimate how many episodes were watched (the backup code didn’t cater for series watch, which we previously estimated as well). The data is just for the US, only counts minutes streamed for anything over two minutes, and all interpretation is our own. This is the how it looked for May 10-16.
|Rank||Streamer||Series||# Episodes||Ep length (mins)*||Total Minutes (Millions)||Episode Watches*|
|2||HULU||The Handmaid’s Tale||41||50||584||11,680,000|
|4||NETFLIX||Selena: The Series||18||35||383||10,942,857|
|6||NETFLIX||Shadow And Bone||8||50||294||5,880,000|
|7||NETFLIX||The Sons Of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness||4||60||278||4,633,333|
|8||AMAZON||The Underground Railroad||10||55**||263||4,781,818|
**Episodes vary from 20 minutes to over 60, this is an average
Jupiter’s Legacy commands the field
Just over one billion minutes of Jupiter’s Legacy. Look at last week (Legacy showing 696 million minutes to Handmaid’s 690), where it was close. Nothing to debate this week, as Jupiter’s Legacy dominates the field at least in terms of numbers of minutes. Our episode watches does show a very good week for newcomer comedy The Upshaws, but it’s all about Mark Millar’s superheroes… or is it?
Speculation — why cancel a popular show?
There’s a set of lies we tell ourselves when we see ratings (a familiar topic to Doctor Who fans…); we equate bigger number with more popular and bigger number with some ill-defined notion of better. Let’s look, though, at some facts in millions of minutes:
Jupiter’s Legacy first weeks: 696, 1,109
The Irregulars first weeks: 424, 643, 270
Shadow and Bone first weeks: 721, 1,192, 555, 294
Both Irregulars and Legacy are cancelled, all three shows have had #1 positions, and he gap (so far) between Legacy and Shadow is not huge. We can think of several reasons.
Numbers aren’t everything
Only Netflix knows who is watching the various shows. Only they know if the figures represent a lot of people watching some episodes or a few watching all. They know who gives a thumbs up or down, they know who gives up after a few episodes and they know what else these people watch. They also know how other shows have behaved. These are peak figures, not sustained viewing (such as The Crown) over a long period.
It might be the Mark Millar stable (this is all just possibilities) has a lot of projects on the way, and Legacy has been taken off the table to clear the decks for other titles. The case is different for Shadow and Bone as it’s adapted parts of books from a series, so has a clear focus.
It might be as simple as economics. If I make three successful shows but one of them costs a lot more per minute to make, I want it to do better. All three shows are heavy on CGI, so it’s probably only part of the story.
What else happened in the data?
Let’s mention Castlevania. Its 205 million minutes is over 8 million episodes watched (potentially) putting it fourth on that basis. Similarly The Upshaws would be second. Amazon’s The Underground Railroad also needs a mention, if nothing else than being such a compelling piece of television.
What might happen next week?
We suspect the Jupiter’s Legacy bubble will burst, comedy shows like The Upshaws tend to peak and fade (on a few month’s data) and we won’t see a peak for Lucifer for two weeks. Whatever does happen, we’ll bring you our take as usual.