The season-premiere episode of Lucifer on Netflix captured an impressive 1.284 billion viewing minutes in the U.S., according to Nielsen, making it the top show in the subscription streaming business for the week of May 24-30.
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Notably, that was the same week that HBO Max’s Mare of Easttown, perhaps the buzziest show on TV for the month of May, had its limited series finale. Since Nielsen still isn’t measuring HBO Max in its weekly arbitration of SVOD audience performance—despite the pleadings of Reed Hastings himself—the ratings picture comes with a bit of an asterisk.
Not that it would have been easy to bedevil Lucifer, the only show among the four biggest U.S. SVOD services to surpass 1 billion streaming minutes for the week ending May 30.
The Netflix series centers on Tom Ellis as the titular fallen angel, who works with the LAPD to take down Earthly criminals. Season 5 of the series consisted of 16 episodes, with
the first eight being released on August 21, 2020. The second half of Season 5 launched on May 28, 2021. After just three days on Netflix, Lucifer’s 83 combined episodes drew video streaming’s biggest weekly audience since Eddie Murphy comedy sequel Coming 2 America debuted on Amazon Prime Video in early March.
After airing on Fox for three years before being canceled, Netflix brought the Warner Bros. TV series back to life for a fourth season in 2018. It was announced in 2019 that Season 5 would be the last, but in
June 2020, Netflix announced that they renewed Lucifer for a sixth and final season.
Falling from the No. 1 spot and into second place was Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, which captured 786 million viewing minutes, down 127 million viewing minutes over its premiere week. The Netflix zombie thriller launched on the streaming service on May 21 and is only the seventh movie to rank No. 1 on Nielsen’s weekly top SVOD programs list since the company started ranking content on the major U.S. SVOD services in September.
The film was first announced in 2008 as a sequel to 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, with Universal Studios and Warner Bros. producing. But Army of the Dead didn’t get off the ground until Netflix acquired the project
in January 2019. According to The Wall Street Journal the projected budget for Army of the Dead was $90 million. “The Snyders say the actual production cost was lower, and far cheaper than
the name-brand superhero movies he made for Warner Bros. with budgets north of $200 million.”
Even at $90 million or slightly below, capturing 786 million viewing minutes in its second week on Netflix seems to make the economic model questionable. But it might not be the Army of the Dead that’s not engaging to viewers. It could be blamed on viewers watching far more cable and network TV, than streaming services.
Last week via Nielsen’s new monthly infographic, The Gauge, the company reported that American viewers spent 64% of their time watching network and cable TV on their television sets in May 2021. Streaming services accounted for just 26% of video watching last month and Netflix accounted for just 6% of U.S. video consumption. Hulu trailed at 3%, Amazon at 2% and Disney Plus at 1%. (Ad-supported YouTube, like Netflix, captured 6%.)
Despite Netflix making up just 6% of U.S. TV watching in May, the company still dominates subscription streaming—all 10 of the top rated shows in the U.S. SVOD biz for the week of May 24-30 belonged to Netflix, which has far more scale (over 74 million U.S. subscribers) than any other SVOD service.
Netflix’s off-network run of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy tallied 633 million U.S. streaming minutes, placing the series and its 374 episodes in third place for May 24-30. That's up 58 million viewing minutes week over week.
Coming in at No. 4 was the off network crime drama Criminal Minds. The CBS procedural drama’s 310 episodes licensed by Netflix garnered 616 million minutes of viewing.
Another Netflix acquired crime drama, Startup ranked fifth. The 31-episode Crackle series, which stars Adam Brody, garnered 547 viewing minutes, down 110 million viewing minutes week over week.
Startup, which launched on Netflix May 4, first aired on Crackle in September 2016. The third and final season of the show premiered November 2018.
Nefltix’s The Kominsky Method, starting its third and final season on May 28, finished eighth.The show follows actor and acting coach Sandy Kominsky (Micahel
Douglas) and his agent Norman Newlander (Alan Arkin), as they navigate their later years in Los Angeles. The show’s 22 episodes garnered 495 million viewing minutes.
Finally, the third season of DreamWorks Animations’ Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous, which debuted on Netflix on May 21, took the No. 9 spot with its 26 episodes garnering 470 million viewing minutes.
Previous Weekly Rankings:
March 29 - April 4: Netflix’s ‘The Irregulars’ Tops the Easter Week Charts
March 22-28: - 'Falcon and Winter Soldier' Tops SVOD Originals
March 15-21: - 'Grey's Anatomy' Re-Runs Top SVOD Ranker
Feb 22-28: - Netflix’s 'Ginny & Georgia' Leads the SVOD Biz
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