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Hulu Tops August's Streaming Power Rankings, While HBO Max Plummets

Even House of the Dragon couldn't paper over a very bad month for Warner Bros. Discovery's soon-to-be renamed streamer.
  • Photos: Netflix, FX/Hulu, Amazon Studios
    Photos: Netflix, FX/Hulu, Amazon Studios

    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 August, the big news was the Warner Bros. Discovery merger stomping down the road and nixing a whole bunch of TV shows and movies that people liked. Meanwhile, new shows like She-Hulk and Sandman, the return of other shows like Reservation Dogs and even the resurrection of Beavis & Butthead sent the standings into shakeup mode..

    A reminder: our rankings are calculated based on the following criteria: new shows (i.e. shows that premiered, or premiered new seasons), projects that were announced, and bonus points (and/or demerits) that take into account things like high-profile cancellations, awards attention, or significant good/bad buzz.

    On to this month's rankings:

    1. Hulu

    Previous Rank: 2

    Premieres: Rather than continue to try and parse the whys and wherefores of what's an FX original vs what's an "FX on Hulu" original (or whatever they're calling it these days), let's just all recognize that FX shows that stream on Hulu are watched by Hulu subscibers and leave it at that. Which means the second season of Reservation Dogs — which is getting more and more "best show you're not talking about enough" citations — counts in Hulu's favor. As do the somewhat less rapturously received The Patient, starring Steve Carell, the Mike Tyson docudrama Mike, and the ten-episode basketball docuseries Legacy: The True Story of the L.A. Lakers. Grade: B+

    Projects Announced: The big one is a project that's been a long time coming. Different people in Hollywood have been trying to adapt the novel Devil in the White City for years, most intriguingly Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. While DiCaprio was long rumored to want to star in the project, it's actually going to be Keanu Reeves in the lead role when it comes to Hulu, with an impressively pedigreed behind-the-camera roster that includes showrunner Sam Shaw (Castle Rock) and director Todd Field (In the Bedroom and the upcoming Oscar contender TAR). Grade: A

    Bonus Points/Demerits: The recently-released trailer for the new season of The Handmaid's Tale is a reminder (albeit a grim one) that Hulu's award-winning series has unfortunately never been more tuned in to current events. Grade: B

    2. Apple TV+

    Previous Rank: 3

    Premieres: The dark comedy/thriller Bad Sisters comes from writer/star Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), with reviews calling it "biting" and "wonderfully cathartic". Grade: B+

    Projects Announced: The L.A.-set contemporary detective story Sugar, from producer-director Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener) and creator Mark Protosevich, will star Colin Farrell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Amy Ryan. Grade: B

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Apple T+ announced that Julianna Margulies is returning for the third season of The Morning Show, which: 1) woo-hoo, Julianna Margulies, and 2) woo-hoo, a reminder that there's going to be a third season of our favorite hot mess The Morning Show! Grade: B

    3. Netflix

    Previous Rank: 5

    Premieres: The looooong awaited screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Sandman finally arrived in all its gorgeous and broody glory, definitely taking its place as the streamer's prized ruby for the month. Other big premieres included the second season of the sports documentary series Untold, which kicked off with an illuminating episode on the Manti Te'o catfishing scandal. Grade: A-

    Projects Announced: An adaptation of the classic Italian work of literature The Decameron as a Jenji Kohan-produced lavish, soapy adventure sounds certainly intriguing. Also, Netflix is bringing back The Mole! Grade: A-

    Bonus Points/Demerits: HBO really took up the mantle of battered streaming platform this month, though any story about a troubled streaming platform seems to come with mention that Netflix is bleeding subscribers and scrambling for a change in direction, so that's not great. Also not great: announcing that Umbrella Academy is ending with its fourth season and the animated queer superhero show Q-Force won't get a second season, which doesn't exactly help turn around Netflix's current reputation as being unfriendly to LGBTQ audiences. Grade: C-

    4. Paramount+

    Previous Rank: 4

    Premieres: Paramount's commitment to bringing back 1990s MTV wholesale continued this month with the premiere of Mike Judge's Beavis & Butthead reboot, which our Aaron Barnhart said features its title characters at their "ridiculous best". Star Trek: Lower Decks also returned, adding to Paramount's increasingly robust Star Trek profile. Grade: B+

    Projects Announced: An Everybody Hates Chris animated series is in the works, just as the Oscars slap had everybody wondering if everybody really did hate Chris. Paramount is also moving forward with a a prequel series to the 2001 British gangster film Sexy Beast that earned Ben Kingsley an Oscar nomination. Grade: B

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Family movie Secret Headquarters set viewership records for Paramount+, which is good news, even if the movie seems to be absolutely devoid of buzz. Grade: B-

    5. Amazon Prime

    Previous Rank: 6

    Premieres: The biggest premiere this month was the reimagining of A League of Their Own, featuring Abbi Jacobsen, D'Arcy Carden, and Chanté Adams. The series was, for the most part, well received and got praise (and, yes, some grumbling from the kinds of fans who resent any kind of progressive tweaks on old favorites) for its focus on the racial and queer aspects of the new story. Elsewhere, new seasons of The Outlaws and Making the Cut as well as an All or Nothing on the English soccer club Arsenal didn't make much of a ripple as Amazon treaded water for another month in anticipation of the new Lord of the Rings series. Grade: B+

    Projects Announced: Once again, a deeply quiet month for Prime Video. Grade: N/A

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Chris Pratt dragging "woke" critics who didn't like Terminal List wasn't a great look. Grade: C-

    6. Peacock

    Previous Rank: 7

    Premieres: The cyber-attack thriller The Undeclared War and the well-reviewed four-friends-in-London series Everything I Know About Love gave Peacock a particularly strong British vibe this month. Grade: B

    Projects Announced: The John Wick prequel series The Continental moved from Starz to Peacock (it's set to premiere in 2023). They've also greenlit Hysteria!, a dramatic thriller series about the "Satanic panic" of the 1980s from writer/producer Matthew Scott Kane. And it was announced that John Woo's reimagining of his film The Killer for Peacock will star Lupin's Omar Sy. Grade: B+

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Days of Our Lives is moving from NBC to Peacock in the fall, making it the first major legacy soap opera to move to a streamer. Peacock will also supplant Hulu as the new home for next-day streaming of NBC and Bravo shows. Grade: B+

    7. Disney+

    Previous Rank: 8

    Premieres: The premiere of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law garnered varied reactions, but the positives cited a freshness of tone and an exciting direction for the D+ MCU shows. Grade: B+

    Projects Announced: Christian Slater is set to star in Disney+'s live-action adaptation of The Spiderwick Chronicles, a contemporary gothic coming-of-age story from showrunner Aron Eli Coleite (Locke & Key) . Grade: B-

    Bonus Points/Demerits: No real surprise, Disney+ is pulling Avatar from the service in preparation for a theatrical re-release timed to Avatar: The Way of Water this December, but in the current climate of anxiety over streamers deleting content, fans got real upset anyway. Grade: B-

    8. HBO Max

    Previous Rank: 1

    Premieres: The biggest premieres under the HBO/HBO Max umbrella this month were on the HBO side, starting with Industry near the beginning of the month, and then a little show called House of the Dragon near the end. Both shows beef up HBO Max's profile, but they're not Max originals. Grade: B

    Projects Announced: HBO Max came up virtually empty in this department all month, save for the announcement that they'd greenlit the Spanish soccer comedy Playing Dirty. Grade: C

    Bonus Points/Demerits: Oooof was it a bad month publicity-wise for HBO Max, thanks to its new parent conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery. Amid news of mass layoffs, projects being canceled left and right, and rumors of a corporate restructuring that would make content content subordinate to cheaper reality programming, it's been bad news after bad news for all who'd grown to appreciate the offerings that HBO Max had built up over many months. One piece of good news? John Corbett's Aidan Shaw is set to appear on And Just Like That Season 2. Grade: D+

     

    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