Nielsen have updated their weekly streaming charts today and it is the first time they include Ahsoka. As you remember Ahsoka dropped two episodes on the same night, and Disney even changed their release strategy for the series, releasing the episodes at 9 pm in the prime time slot, contrary to all of the previous shows where the episodes dropped in the middle of the night. So how did the show do? Not good. Not good at all actually. Click through for all the details!
I will briefly cover the usual caveats, if you read any of my previous Nielsen articles you may remember how difficult it is to compare actual viewership numbers for streaming shows. Nielsen would only ever provide total viewing minutes which greatly depends on total length of the episode and number of episodes. So the best we can do to compare shows with different episode lengths is to use a hypothetical “people” metric, where viewing minutes is divided by episode length. Which is only a crude approximation, but since it’s equally crude for all the shows it still makes things much more comparable.
With all that out of the way let’s dive right in!
Nielsen reports 829 million viewing minutes for Ahsoka in week 1, which means for the first two episodes which had a total combined length of 97 minutes, including end credits.
So how does that compare to the other various Star Wars shows? Only Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi also released more than one episode in the first week, so let’s compare Ahsoka with these two shows first!
Ahsoka: 829 million minutes, length 97 minutes – 8.55 million people
Andor: 624 million minutes, length 115 minutes – 5.42 million people
Obi-Wan Kenobi: 1,026 million minutes, length 91 minutes – 11.27 million people
As you can see Ahsoka, as of now, is comfortably ahead of the massive three episode Andor season premiere. It has to be said though that Andor’s season premiere numbers are a massive outlier and Andor’s actual ratings were much higher for all subsequent episodes, indicating that few people bothered to watch all three episodes in the first week of release. So there is every chance Ahsoka will compete with Andor for least watched Star Wars series in the coming weeks. For example, in week 2 Andor had about 10.4 million people (with four episodes in total). And for much of the season the series had a little more than 8 million people. So basically what Ahsoka has now with its season premiere.
But what about the week 1 numbers for The Mandalorian season 3 and The Book of Boba Fett?
The Mandalorian S3: 823 million minutes, length 35 minutes – 23.51 million people
The Book of Boba Fett: 389 million minutes, length 37:40 minutes – 10.33 million people
So what can we say?
Ahsoka episodes 1 and 2 have only 36% of the viewership of The Mandalorian season 3 premiere. In fact a super short 35 minute The Mandalorian episode basically gets the same number of total viewing minutes as a massive 97 minute two-parter released at prime time on a Tuesday night.
In other words: two thirds of all Star Wars fans who watched The Mandalorian season premiere a few months ago decided not to give Ahsoka a chance even and they never tuned in.
What does that tell us? It tells us that it may have been a very bad idea to make a live action sequel to two animated shows that basically requires you to have watched those shows. Animated shows are always much more niche than live action shows (generally speaking, there are exceptions), so by the very nature of it Ahsoka primarily appealed to people who are familiar with the character from Rebels and The Clone Wars.
It also tells us that Lucasfilm may have greatly overestimated the general appeal of Ahsoka who is one of most popular newer Star Wars characters, at least among hardcore fans and people who grew up with The Clone Wars, but her general appeal seems to be rather limited. On the level of Cassian Andor from Rogue One when we look at Andor’s ratings after the massive three episode premiere. Who only ever appeared in one movie, compared to the 100+ episodes and even a theatrical animated movie that featured Ahsoka.
Now what does that mean for any potential movie Dave Filoni is supposed to make and that is supposed to be the Marvel Avengers version of the various Mandoverse Star Wars series? If Ahsoka were the lead in that movie chances are it might tank or at least seriously underperform and thus any big event movie, even if the Mandalorian himself were the lead, probably needs CGI Luke, Han and Leia in prominent leading roles to be actually of any interest to the more casual fans out there. Especially since many fans remember the original Thrawn book trilogy that was all about Luke, Han and Leia and not Ahsoka, Din Djarin and a Jedi toddler. So any movie with Thrawn comes with expectations.
What is even more worrying… chances are pretty high that next week’s numbers for Ahsoka will be even worse, since the first two episodes were not exactly met with enthusiasm by many people. Ahsoka herself is also a surprisingly dull and emotionless character on the show. So there is a good chance Ahsoka may drop even below Andor numbers, which is not what you want for a series that cost you about 200 million USD.
And while the numbers make Ahsoka one of the most watched streaming shows in the week of its release, it is #2 on the original series charts and #5 on the general streaming charts, it does not even manage to beat Bluey, so it is not the most watched Disney+ show in its week of release, it is beaten by a kids show that is not even Disney’s own IP, Bluey is an acquired show. And you always have to compare Ahsoka to all of the other live action Star Wars series. And a whopping 64% drop in viewership from The Mandalorian season 3 season premiere and an even worse 67% drop from The Mandalorian season 3 finale is simply nothing Disney can be happy with. Especially when Ahsoka is meant to be the initial set-up for the big movie coming in a few years from now.
Despite featuring one of the few popular characters that originated outside the movies Ahsoka left a majority of Star Wars fans cold and they didn’t even want to check out the first two episodes. Basically the same we had with Andor, which was an excellent series, but simply too niche to have a broader appeal.
Going forward Disney and Lucasfilm should think hard about their strategy, do they really want to make shows that require you to have watched 200+ episodes of various animated shows to properly understand what is going on? Without properly introducing characters and even major plot points in a live action show that is supposed to have a broader appeal? Ahsoka threw you into cold water and never threw you a life line even.
As a result the ratings are what they are, the 2nd worst ratings for any Star Wars series, with every chance to become even the least watched show when we get next week’s ratings. Ahsoka would have to beat Andor’s 489 million minutes or 10.40 million people for that. Of course episode 4 was one of Andor’s highest rated episodes, probably boosted by people who caught up with the show and watched the massive three season premiere or parts of it. The ratings dropped by 20% after that. Only to recover close to the season finale. But Ahsoka still has one ace up its sleeve: the super nostalgic episode featuring Hayden Christensen that may attract a few more viewers once episode 5 is added to the charts. So ratings may ultimately somewhat improve once we reach the latter half of the season. Which is also the point in the series where things greatly improve compared with the early episodes. But we will see. Quality is not always reflected in viewership numbers, as Andor proved. And there is a chance that this improvement may come much too late when people have given up after the first pretty rocky episodes that are not exactly highlights.
So let’s reconvene next week to see what the numbers tell us!
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