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‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ And ‘Stranger Things’ Kick Off Summer Of Genre Counter-programming [Parrot Analytics]

The most aggressive counter programming event of the streaming era kicks off this weekend, with Netflix‘s Stranger Things season four part one, and Disney+’s Obi-Wan Kenobi debuting on the same day.

Global demand data reveals that Stranger Things is potentially poised for its largest audience ever, while Obi-Wan Kenobi has seen higher pre-release demand than The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.

The debut of these shows serves as a proxy in the contest between Disney and Netflix for streaming and entertainment dominance, as a weakened Netflix stumbles into what it has already warned investors will be its worst quarter ever in terms of subscriber losses, while Disney+ continues to outperform subscriber growth estimates. 

The simultaneous launch of these shows also highlights the proverbial ‘binge vs weekly’ release strategy debate, and the importance of building out franchise IP in order to drive audience attention in the 2020s and beyond.

Later this summer two other major streaming and entertainment players will have their own high stakes genre counter programming match - HBO’s House of the Dragon debuts on August 21, followed by Amazon Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on September 2. Below, we analyze how various marketing ploys from each company have impacted pre-release demand for these shows so far this year.

Global Time Shift Analysis - Stranger Things:

  • Global anticipation ahead of season four of Stranger Things is higher than it was ahead of any other season. This makes sense given it has been almost three years since new Stranger Things episodes were released, making season four true “Event Television.”
  • Three days ahead of its season four launch, demand for Stranger Things was 108.4x more in demand than the average show worldwide. This was:
    • 50% higher than global demand three days ahead of season three
    • 150% higher than global demand three days ahead of season two
  • Demand for Stranger Things following its season three release peaked at 223.2x globally - this is the highest peak demand of any streaming original series Parrot Analytics has measured (dating back to 2015), and the second highest overall show, only behind Game of Thrones.

Global Time Shift Analysis - Disney+ Star Wars Live Action:

  • Obi-Wan Kenobi has clocked higher global pre-release demand than either of its Disney+ Star Wars live action brethren, The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.
  • This bodes well for the new series, considering global demand for The Mandalorian peaked as the second highest streaming original Parrot Analytics has measured.
  • Disney+’s May 4th trailer release for Obi-Wan Kenobi worked very well, building excitement on Star Wars Day and bumping the show up to 29.8x, just outside of our ‘exceptional’ category of demand, a remarkable feat for a series that had zero available episodes at the time.

Binge vs Weekly - Stranger Things vs The Mandalorian:

  • As stated above, Stranger Things and The Mandalorian have hit the two highest peaks of global demand of any streaming original shows Parrot Analytics has measured. Reviewing exactly how they did it is illuminating.
  • Stranger Things, a binge released series, peaked four days after its third season debut, before trailing off over in the proceeding weeks.
  • Meanwhile, global demand for The Mandalorian grew during its first five episodes, before leveling off, then building again and peaking at 161.5x following its season one finale.
  • Season four of Stranger Things will represent somewhat of a hybrid release, with the first seven episodes available May 27, and the next two on July 1.
  • In the roughly two and half years since The Mandalorian launched (Nov 12, 2019-May 24, 2022), it has been the fourth most in-demand series in the world across all platforms with 55.2x, while Stranger Things has been number five at 53.9x.
  • Even though Obi-Wan Kenobi is technically a separate series from The Mandalorian, the interconnected way in which Disney+ has launched its Star Wars series ala the MCU bodes well for Obi-Wan Kenobi’s ability to piggyback off and possibly build on The Mandalorian’s massive global audience.

Late Summer Fantasy Counter Programming:

  • Two of the most highly anticipated shows ever are coming out later this summer - HBO’s Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon on August 21, and Amazon Prime Video’s dizzyingly expensive The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on September 2.
  • Both HBO and Prime Video began heavily marketing these series far earlier than normal, but as the data shows, they have been successful in drumming up high, albeit brief, levels of audience demand many months ahead of these series releases.
  • After Prime Video announced the title of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, global pre-release demand for the show jumped up to 17.3x and it briefly became the 200th most in-demand show worldwide. Following its teaser debut during Super Bowl 56, global demand went up to 26.4x, and it peaked as the 90th most in-demand show more than six months before launching. Without these these sustained efforts, demand dropped back down to the low single digits.
  • The pre-release marketing efforts for HBO's House of the Dragon have paid off even more. Following the announcement of its release date, House of the Dragon bumped up to 24.3x worldwide, ranking as the 118th most in-demand show across all platforms. Following its trailer release on May 6, the Thrones spin-off was the 75th most in-demand show in the world at 29.9x.
  • It’s worth noting that Obi-Wan Kenobi’s peak global pre-release demand was 29.8x - right in the same range as these two upcoming fantasy series.

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