Global Popularity of U.S. shows

5 October, 2023

Image: Desperate Housewives, ABC

In the ever-evolving world of American television, numerous shows are produced annually aiming to captivate domestic viewers. However, with the global expansion of the entertainment sector, an intriguing pattern has surfaced: some American TV series are becoming immensely popular overseas, sometimes even outperforming their U.S. demand. A show that might receive a lukewarm reception in the U.S. could become a sensation in regions like Europe, Asia, or South America.

The rise of global streaming services and improved internet accessibility means international audiences now have unprecedented access to American content, just as Americans can more readily explore international shows. Based on Parrot Analytics demand data, we've identified several U.S. TV productions that have resonated more profoundly outside the U.S. It’s important to consider that this data takes into account consumer research, streaming, downloads, and social media, among other consumer engagement, and it’s not affected by the availability of platforms in each region.

For instance, Russian viewers frequently consume U.S. series, particularly those featuring Russian characters. ABC's Desperate Housewives boasted a demand that was 25.2% higher in Russia than in the U.S. in the previous quarter. This spike was partly due to the character Irina in its 6th season. Another example is Netflix's The Queen’s Gambit, a chess-centric series. The show, which also highlights Soviet chess players, was 30% more in demand in Russia than in the domestic market, given the nation's rich chess history.


Apple TV+ has also found significant traction in Russia. Their thriller, Shantaram, saw twice the demand in Russia compared to the US. It narrates the journey of a heroin addict who flees to Bombay and encounters the city's dark underbelly, including Russian mobsters. Another Apple TV+ hit in Russia is Black Bird.

Netflix's new show Fubar, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, has seen significant demand in Germany. The title, which is also German slang, could be a factor in its local appeal. Interestingly, the U.S. version of The Bachelor has garnered a following in the Netherlands. The absence of a recent Dutch iteration might be driving viewers to the American version.

Shifting gears, Brazilian audiences have shown sustained interest in the antics of Charlie Harper from Two and a Half Men. The show was 6.9% more in-demand in Brazil than in the U.S. last quarter, showing the interest in American TV comedies by Brazilian audiences. 

A couple of American productions have been very successful with African audiences. Tyler Perry’s comedy Sistas, aimed at African-American viewers, has found a broader audience in Africa. The show is notably popular in other African countries like Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria. Similarly, the market where Scandal is most popular is South Africa, with 139% of the demand in the U.S. market. 

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