Image: Harley Quinn, Netflix
We are now two weeks in and already 2020 is shaping up to be different from 2019. In 2019, the most demanded show in the USA tended to stay that way for months at a time: HBO’s Game Of Thrones dominated the first half of the year and Netflix’s Stranger Things the second half. However, this year we have two series battling for the top spot. After Disney+’s The Mandalorian arrived in November 2019 and quickly reached the top of the chart, there was a surprise upset in the last week of the year when Netflix’s The Witcher took the top spot. Last week, The Mandalorian ended on top again for the first chart of 2020 and now this week, The Witcher leads once again. It is a narrow lead though, with only a 2% difference between the two shows.
It is very interesting how close together the top show from Disney+ and the top show from Netflix are given their differences. One thing we can take away from this battle is that both traditional weekly release schedules and binge-enabling all-at-once releases can lead to success with American audiences.
However, while it is tempting to view this struggle for most demanded series as an indication of the wider strengths of each platform, ultimately there is little we can draw from the performance of single series, even high performing ones. While blockbuster titles certainly help, in the end the strength of a platform comes from its entire catalog and both services face challenges on that front in 2020.
Outside the top two, we have a new entry in the overall chart this week. The 10th most demanded series in the US this week is venerable British sci-fi series Doctor Who. Season 38 of the long-running BBC series began airing in the UK on January 1st. The series is broadcast in the US on the same day on BBC America.
We also have a new entry in the digital original chart. DC Universe’s Harley Quinn arrives in 9th place, with 2.6% more digital TV demand than last week. An animated series set in the Batman universe, the first season started airing in late November 2019. There is a good chance the show will rise higher next week as the season finale is released on January 17th. The series is likely also benefiting from increased interest in the character due to the upcoming feature film Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).
We also have a returning show this week. Netflix’s Narcos is back in the US digital original top ten. After successfully switching setting from Colombia to Mexico last season, a new season of Narcos: Mexico will return to Netflix on February 13th. After the release of the first trailer for the new season, digital TV demand for the crime drama has increased by 3.9% compared to last week.
Finally, Prime Video’s The Expanse also increased in demand this week. The sci-fi drama is up 1.5% in digital TV demand after some Season 5 production details were released to fans.