This week, The Sandman topped the ranking of most in-demand new series in the US following its premiere on Netflix on August 5th. This isn’t surprising as Neil Gaiman has proved to be one of the authors whose work is consistently popular when adapted for TV. In fact, consistency aptly describes the track record of Gaiman’s TV adaptations. Several season premieres of adaptations of his work have had nearly identical peaks, around 25x the demand of the average series. The Sandman (purple), Good Omens (red), and American Gods (orange) all hit this mark within 10 days of premiering, while Lucifer (green) took longer to reach its peak in the first month of its second season, at the time still airing on Fox.
As a point of comparison if we look at Stephen King, one of the most prolifically adapted living authors, we can see how much variability there can be between different adaptations from the same author. Among premieres of his recent small screen adaptations, HBO’s The Outsider had the highest demand, hovering above 24x for most of its season. On the other hand, Apple TV+’s Lisey’s Story never got above 16x the average series demand in its first season. Chapelwaite from Epix is a good example of a show that was a late bloomer, with demand for the series strongly taking off mid-season as audiences finally discovered it.
Of course the source material is only one factor in how successful a show ultimately is. Lucifer is a great case study in how impactful the right platform can be in helping a show reach its highest demand. When its third season ended in May 2017, after being cancelled by Fox, the show reached the highest demand it had ever seen at nearly 30x. Seven months later when seasons 1 - 3 came to Netflix the show saw a noticeable bump in demand. When the fourth season was released as a Netflix original in May 2019, weekly demand for the show hit a new record at nearly 35x. So, while Neil Gaiman’s adaptations have proven to be predictably popular, even his stories benefit from finding the right home to maximize their potential.