The enduring appeal of long-running series

1 September, 2023

Image: Criminal Minds, CBS

In today's television era, streaming platforms are pouring billions into fresh content, offering viewers a plethora of choices every time they switch on their devices. Interestingly, amidst this influx of new content, certain TV series, ones that have aired for several years across numerous seasons, continue to capture and expand their dedicated viewer base. Such long-running shows are not just cultural icons; they invite deeper reflection on viewer tastes, broadcasting strategies, and shifts in TV consumption patterns.

The pertinent question then arises: Why do these series remain in demand in a constantly flooded market? Is the appeal solely based on nostalgia, or are there deeper reasons that pull viewers back season after season?

Using data from Parrot Analytics, we delve into these queries. The chart that follows displays the demand for selected long-running series in the initial 90 days after the launch of each new season since 2016. A notable trend in American TV is the enduring appeal of procedural dramas. Shows like CBS’s Blue BloodsNCISNCIS: Los Angeles, and NBC’s Law and Order: SVU have seen growing demand with every new season. In fact, the latest seasons of these shows often record peak demand compared to their previous ones.


While the final season of Criminal Minds experienced a slight dip compared to its predecessor, its demand has surged since its 13th season in 2017. All showcased shows have recorded exceptional demand in their recent seasons, often surpassing the average show's demand by over tenfold. In some instances, like the last season of Law and Order: SVU and Criminal Minds' penultimate season, demand skyrocketed to levels achieved by a mere 0.2% of shows.

The longevity of procedurals can be attributed to several reasons. They, alongside sitcoms and select unscripted content, serve as ideal casual viewing – aptly dubbed "laundry folding shows.” Viewers can effortlessly tune in without needing continuity since most episodes wrap up their narratives conclusively. This episodic nature, combined with the repeatable format of these shows, fosters longer-term audience engagement. The more viewers watch, the more they connect with recurring characters, enhancing their overall viewing experience.  

The below chart highlights two shows from different genres whose peak seasons were not their latest releases. Grey’s Anatomy saw its zenith during its 17th season in late 2020. Although it experienced a dip in its 18th season, demand picked up once more in the 19th, although to a lower level than the 17th season. Meanwhile, American Horror Story achieved record demand for its 8th and 9th seasons in 2018 and 2019. However, its subsequent seasons couldn't maintain this momentum. For producers of enduring series, it is crucial to monitor indicators of audience saturation or diminishing enthusiasm.


Get a glimpse into the future of global audience demand measurement for TV shows, movies and talent and learn from consolidated insights and strategic thinking focused on the entertainment industry.

Exclusive global, regional and market-specific content and talent analyses
Rank 15,000+ talent in 50+ markets across all platforms
Rank 20k+ TV shows and 12k+ movies in 50+ markets across all platforms

The Global Television Demand Report

  • Truly understand the global SVOD originals landscape
  • Comprehensive platform market share benchmarks
  • Released each quarter covering 10 global markets
  • Get exclusive access to our comprehensive reports
  • Available for FREE with a DEMAND360LITE subscription