Insights

Why Westerns are the newest land of opportunity on TV

27 June, 2022

Westerns are making a comeback, but not necessarily just on the big screen. It seems like westerns are popping up all over different networks and OTT services on television. Yellowstone is one of the most watched shows on television, and its demand continues to increase with each passing season. It’s one of the 10 most in-demand shows on Peacock. Its spinoff, 1883, is another hit. 

So while it seems like westerns are suddenly everywhere, the question is whether demand for westerns is actually growing.

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As the genre picks up more demand, there are a few shows that stand out. Yellowstone and 1883 are the two most in-demand western series, which isn’t too surprising. Yellowstone boasts a demand score of nearly 22x the average demand of all other series in the US year to date. That puts it in the exceptional category, which only 2.7% of shows reach. 1883 comes in at nearly 16x the average demand of all other series in the US. 

What’s interesting about the uptick in western is the uptick in demand for older shows. Little House on the Prairie and Deadwood are both within the top 10 western shows in the United States, according to Parrot Analytics data. The same goes for Bonanza. They all exist within the outstanding or good category for demand. While westerns aren’t as in-demand as superhero shows or sci-fi, this is still impressive.

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When looking at demand for western dramas on linear television (cable and broadcast) as well as OTT platforms between September 2021 and June 2022, there is a noticeable uptick in demand for westerns. The chart above demonstrates demand for westerns jumping about 50 points within that time frame. The increase in demand for the genre can be directly compared to stronger investment in the genre by mainstream networks (as opposed to networks targeting that audience, like History) as they try to capture some of this audience. 

Westerns represent a white space for many of these companies. Examining the supply vs demand for genres in the United States in Q1, western was one of the strongest in-demand genres with very little supply. The chart below demonstrates this data. Westerns, like apocalyptic series and procedurals on OTT platforms. Companies like Paramount are investing in creatives who can bring these kinds of stories to their subscribers and viewers, and do it at a high quality.

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It’s clear that demand for westerns isn’t going to decline anytime soon. But much like other genres, where there is less demand because the supply is overpowering and therefore creating a saturated space, it’ll be dependent on continued quality programming. Could the next big Netflix hit, or could Disney+’s new foray into original programming, include westerns? There’s a pretty good chance.


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