Earlier today Lucasfilm and Disney shared via StarWars.com that the first episode of Ahsoka, which debuted a week ago on Disney+, brought in 14 million views. This announcement is unusual behaviour for Disney who typically don’t share the number of views or viewers a specific TV series or movie gets on their streaming service. Though the number may seem impressive, there’s more to the story than just the headline that Lucasfilm and Disney shared.
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Disney and Lucasfilm shared that the first episode Ahsoka globally garnered 14 million views…VIEWS. This does not represent unique viewers which is how TV was traditionally reported. An example of this is The Last of Us from HBO, a series that premiered earlier this year. HBO reported that the series opener of The Last of Us brought in 18 million viewers (unique viewers) within its first week of release in the United States, but that the series continued to grow and the average viewership for the individual episodes grew to around 30 million viewers by the time of the season finale’s release. This equates to 30 million individuals watching an episode of The Last of Us once, even if that individual watched multiple times, they’re only considered to be one unique viewer. And this is where the difference in the Ahsoka reporting appears.
Lucasfilm are sharing that Ahsoka garnered 14 million views for its premiere episode within its first week globally, but this does not represent 14 million unique viewers/individuals. The Hollywood Reporter shared that Disney have seemingly adopted the latest Netflix model in this recent report. Netflix’s definition of a “view” is the total runtime spent watching a series or movie divided by its running time. As stated by THR, this method does not equate to actual views and this watch time equation does not shed light on just how many unique viewers are tuning into a specific movie or TV series. For example, Netflix’s action flick, Extraction 2, had 88.4 million hours of viewing time worldwide from June 12th, 2023 to June 18th, 2023. Netflix divided that by its run time of 124 minutes which they then equated to 42.8 million views. As pointed out by Deadline, this way of counting views assumes that every time a user watches a new series or film that said user would complete the viewing each time, thus it inflates the unique views. However it is far more likely that some users are watching multiple times, while many never even make it to the end of the episode or movie the first time.
Yesterday it was reported by a third party, Samba TV, that Ahsoka brought in 1.2 million unique viewers for its first episode and 956,000 for its second. Samba’s reporting is simply a slice of the true numbers of the episodes viewership and does not paint the full picture as Samba are only able to collect data from around 28 million devices. Samba’s reporting revealed that Ahsoka had less unique viewers within its first week that The Mandalorian season three (1.6 million), The Book of Boba Fett (1.7 million) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (2.4 million). Samba added that Ahsoka’s first episode had a comparable viewership to Andor’s first episode. Another third party data collector, Plum Research, reported that Andor gained 20 million unique viewers over the course of its run, whereas The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi performed significantly better with 30 million unique viewers for the former and 33 million for the latter.
Transparency in regards to viewership is a key part of the ongoing Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild strikes which have been taking place since May and July. Both the writers and actors are asking for residual or revenue sharing for how well a TV show performs. You can support the actors and writers on strike in various ways including donating to the DSA-LA who have been providing those on the picket lines with food and water along with the Entertainment Community Fund which supports those in the industry that are in need of emergency financial assistance.
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