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Hulu Holds Strong In September's Streaming Power Rankings, as Prime Video Continues to Climb

PLUS: HBO Max rebounds with a few intriguing series in development.
  • Photos: Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, Peacock.
    Photos: Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, Peacock.

    At the end of each month, Primetimer's Joe Reid surveys the undulating fortunes of the eight major streaming platforms for our Streaming Power Rankings.

    In September, Hulu defended its #1 perch with a new season of The Handmaid's Tale, plus a few well-received debuts, including the smart and sexy adaptation Tell Me Lies. Elsewhere, news of a Steven Soderbergh limited series helped HBO Max pull out of its doldrums, and Amazon finally premiered The Rings of Power to both acclaim and (annoying) controversy.  Here are our updated Streaming Power Rankings, listed from top to bottom. 

    1. Hulu

    Previous Rank: 1

    Premieres: The Handmaid's Tale, Hulu's ever-venerable drama whose alternate version of history feels less "alternate" by the day, returned for its 5th season this month, which is as high-profile a premiere as Hulu has in its arsenal right now. Hulu had, in general, a bountiful month of new programming, which included cooking shows like Chefs vs. Wild and Best in Dough, both of which we recommend checking out. The Kardashians and The D'Amelio Show both returned for second seasons, if cult-of-personality reality TV is more your thing. Scripted-wise, things looked even more promising; Tell Me Lies was a "You meets Normal People" drama about a toxic relationship that our Claire Spellberg Lustig called a "tour de force of coming-of-age storytelling." And if that wasn't enough, our Mark Blankenship called the show show-behind-the-show comedy Reboot a "best-case scenario for a series created by A-list talent." Grade: A+

    Projects Announced: Perhaps the prospect of "a Lily Collins show about a couple who got heavy into crypto" doesn't appeal to you, but with a title like Razzlekhan: The Infamous Crocodile of Wall Street, you'll probably need to at least sample it. Elsewhere, Logan Lerman and Joey King will star in the Holocaust-themed limited series We Were the Lucky Ones, and Taye Diggs is preparing to dip back into his How Stella Got Her Groove Back fame to host Back in the Groove, a reality dating show for over-40 women. Grade: B+

    Bonus Points/Demerits: On the heels of its season premiere, the Handmaid's Tale was renewed for its sixth and reportedly final season, giving the show time to ramp up to what will surely be a barnburner of an ending. Grade: B

    2. Prime Video

    Previous Rank: 5

    Premieres: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power finally made its loooooong-awaited debut, and true to what Prime Video was hoping, it was at the forefront of the TV discourse, especially as it kept getting compared (favorably, more often than not) to HBO's House of the Dragon. Grade: A

    Projects Announced: Nothing new coming out the Prime Video camp this month. Grade: N/A

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Good for everybody involved with The Rings of Power and the greater Lord of the Rings-verse for pushing back loudly against the racist complaints that the new series was too "woke" for casting performers of color in key roles. Grade: A

    3. HBO Max

    Previous Rank: 8

    Premieres: Almost everything worth watching on HBO Max this month was from an HBO original, perhaps another sign that the future for these two entities will be one and the same. As House of the Dragon continued on, we got the premiere of the new season of Los Espookys and the Iran-crisis documentary Hostages. Grade: B

    Projects Announced: Steven Soderbergh's recent partnership with HBO Max will continue soon with the limited series Full Circle, a New York-set series that follows a kidnapping investigation that pulls together many characters. The cast, which got announced in dribs and drabs all month, seems very strong and includes Zazie Beetz, Claire Danes, Timothy Olyphant, Dennis Quaid, and Jharrel Jerome. Meanwhile, the hit docuseries The Way Down, about crooked diet guru Gwen Shamblin, will be getting a scripted limited series treatment from The Act's Michelle Dean, starring Sarah Paulson as the late Shamblin. Grade: B+

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Jean Smart won her second straight Emmy for Hacks (good news), while the third Magic Mike movie will premiere in theaters instead of on HBO Max as planned (good news for everybody except HBO Max!). Grade: B-

    4. Paramount+

    Previous Rank: 4

    Premieres: The sixth and final season of The Good Fight made for a strong premiere amid apocalyptic imagery and Diane getting stoned as hell. Elsewhere, the live concert tribute to the Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins was a moving event. Grade: B+

    Projects Announced: John Bradley (Game of Thrones' Samwell) and Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey's Anna) will co-star in North Shore, a crime series with some international intrigue thrown in. Grade: B-

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Paramount and Showtime announced a new shared streaming service, which is good news for people who want to watch Yellowjackets and Survivor and not have to hop between platforms. Grade: B

    5. Netflix

    Previous Rank: 3

    Premieres: Netflix, as ever, let the fire hose of content blast out new premieres and returning shows throughout September, so something was bound to hit. But even under those parameters, the Ryan Murphy limited series with the unwieldy title — Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story — has been a massive success. The show, starring Evan Peters as the titular serial killer, was met with largely negative critical reaction, but numbers-wise it's been Netflix's biggest hit since Stranger Things returned. Elsewhere, previously buzzy shows like Cobra Kai and Love Is Blind: After the Altar didn't have the same potency with their new seasons, though as ever, a bright spot was a new season of The Great British Baking Show, which premiered on time despite the UK being in a national period of mourning. Nothing can stop the Hollywood Handshake from arriving on time. Grade: B+

    Projects Announced: Tituss Burgess will narrate a reboot of The Teletubbies. Rapper Vince Staples is set to produce and star in his own comedy series. Grade: C+

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Netflix's original films give (Do Revenge was a crowd-pleaser with great reviews) and then take away (the long-awaited Blonde starring Ana de Armas was absolutely torn apart by critics). Grade: B-

    6. Disney+

    Previous Rank: 7

    Premieres: Yes, it's exciting that the new season of Dancing with the Stars — complete with Selma Blair, Shangela, Jordin Sparks, and Teresa Giudice — is now streaming exclusively on Disney+. But there's also the small matter of Andor, the latest Star Wars universe series, which has been receiving largely stellar reviews (no pun intended) and is being heralded as the best Star Wars production in years. Grade: A

    Projects Announced: If it ain't broke, then greenlight a show for it, which seems to be the D+ motto when it comes to Star Wars, so much so that they're delving into the pre-school series Young Jedi Adventures. Grade: B-

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Disney+ Day was heavy on new trailers to drum up excitement for already-announced projects but light on any announcements of new shows we didn't know about. It also was accompanied by the premiere of the Robert Zemeckis-directed, Tom Hanks-starring Pinocchio remake, which critics immediately wanted the Blue Fairy to take back from whence it came. Grade: C+

    7. Peacock

    Previous Rank: 6

    Premieres: In addition to welcoming the daytime soap Days of Our Lives to its new streaming home, Peacock also got pretty good reviews for its new series Vampire Academy. Less fortunate was the poorly reviewed Matthew Fox thriller Last Light, which was blasted as decidedly un-thrilling. Grade: B-

    Projects Announced: Creators Mike Judge and Zach Woods are teaming up on the NPR-inspired animated series In the Know. Meanwhile, the Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist creators are working on a murder-mystery anthology where Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera will serve as the backdrop, which will perhaps take a little of the sting out of Phantom closing on Broadway. Grade: B+

    Bonus Points/Demerits: It's tough to place the blame for record-low Emmy ratings on Peacock just because it streamed the event live, but it's worth mentioning. What is Peacock's fault is the cancellation of Rutherford Falls after two seasons. Grade: C

    8. Apple TV+

    Previous Rank: 2

    Premieres: In addition to the third (quite strong) season of the animated musical series Central Park, Apple premiered its new series produced by and starring Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. Somewhat dubiously titled Gutsy, the series saw mother and daughter Clinton explore the realities of "gutsy" women, amid interviews with Kim Kardashian and Amy Schumer. The reviews were… mixed (Variety called it "dull"). Grade: C+

    Projects Announced: Nothing new coming out the Apple camp this month. Grade: N/A

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Ted Lasso followed up last year's Emmys stampede with another trophy-heaving night, winning the awards for Directing, Lead Actor, Supporting Actor, and Outstanding Comedy Series, even as Severance came up empty-handed in the drama categories. Grade: B+

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock