For any media platform, a strong library is a good way to improve both viewer retention and acquisition. We have seen that some of the biggest library tentpoles are what might be called ‘classic’ sitcoms. Audiences love comfort viewing these favorite comedies, and the biggest media companies have noticed.
As an example, NBC’s Friends ended in 2004 yet in 2019 WarnerMedia spent $425 million on rights to the show. Similarly, NBC’s The Office ended in 2013 and the rights recently sold to NBCUniversal for $500 million and most recently, Netflix acquired rights to NBC’s Seinfeld (which ended in 1998) for a figure speculated to be over $500 million. We have previously covered these deals in detail here.
The 72nd Emmy Awards held on September 21st may have revealed the next member of this elite group of sitcoms.
While the ceremony was as usual a high-profile event with admired talent and beloved shows nominated, most of the news stories afterwards focused on one show. Schitt’s Creek, a Canadian sitcom from CBC, won a record-breaking seven Emmys, cleaning out the comedy categories.
The wins include Best Comedy and all four Comedy Acting awards. Dan Levy, who acts as director, writer, and actor for the show, personally won three Emmys. The unprecedented winning streak of Schitt’s Creek makes it the comedy series with the most Emmy wins in a single year.
This chart shows how the US demand changes for all series nominated for a comedy Emmy compared to the seven days before the ceremony.
The numbers prove that US audience attention for Schitt’s Creek skyrocketed after the historic wins. Demand for Schitt’s Creek increased by +17.4 times the demand of the average US series. Over the seven days immediately after the 2020 Emmy Awards, the sitcom was 46.7 times more in-demand than average.
This increase is by far the largest out of the comedy nominees. Interestingly, NBC’s The Good Place had the second highest increase in demand, partly due to internet backlash that the thought-provoking comedy did not win a single Emmy in its four-season run. The demand increase is also likely to be partly unrelated to the Emmys, due to The Good Place’s final season arriving on US Netflix on September 25th.
However, while the immediate effect of the ceremony is notable, another sign points to the possible ascendancy of Schitt’s Creek to all-time-classic. This next chart looks at the five sitcoms from the previous chart with the highest US demand and shows how their US ranking changes over the days around the ceremony.
Just as the +17.4x demand increase from the previous graph suggests, the Emmy wins had a big impact on the standing of Schitt’s Creek with US audiences. This is especially impressive as the sitcom was already the highest echelons of US demand, sitting around rank 50 out of all series in the US. Immediately following the Emmys ceremony on September 22nd & 23rd, Schitt’s Creek peaks at rank 6. This is ranked behind only series with truly outstanding demand like HBO’s Game Of Thrones and Disney+’s The Mandalorian.
The most interesting feature of this graph is that the historic nature of the multiple wins seems to have held audience attention. Demand for Schitt’s Creek has not declined to its pre-awards baseline and is still one of the top twenty series in the US seven days later.
Schitt’s Creek’s clean sweep of the primetime comedy Emmys means that this year there are no other sitcom winners we can compare to directly. Of the highest-demand sitcoms also nominated, NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine and HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm saw no significant on-the day increase and their demand remains stable across the days investigated.
FX’s What We Do In The Shadows did see a demand increase from the ceremony. Nominated for eight Emmys, on the 21st the show gained 50 places to reach rank 100. However, in the seven days since it has since dropped back down to around rank 150.
Finally, this chart shows the demand impacts on The Good Place clearer. We can see that immediately after the ceremony, the show’s daily rankings increased by around 30 due to the backlash mentioned earlier. Demand then returns to the baseline as the news cycle passes, then a few days later, it gets a larger increase due to the Netflix Season 4 addition. The Netflix-addition related US demand increase for The Good Place is foreshadowing for the near future of Schitt’s Creek, whose final season will also be added to US Netflix on October 7th.
This means that of the five most in-demand nominated sitcoms, Schitt’s Creek is the only one to have stabilized at a new level this far after from the awards event. For the shows that did not win, the Emmys story is effectively over with nothing more to discuss. But Schitt’s Creek is being discovered and shared by a new audience, who may grow to love the award-winning series as much as they do the established ‘classics’. It is easy to foresee a future where Schitt’s Creek is held up alongside sitcom staples like Friends, Parks and Recreation, Community and The Office, with a price tag to match.