Filed under 'we're not sure if this is good or bad for Netflix' news, comes official confirmation that the world's number one most streamed TV show is Echoes.
That's because Echoes, which can be watched in its entirety right now on Netflix, has racked up 1.12 billion minutes viewed according to the latest official Nielsen ratings.
That 1.12 billion minutes viewed means that Echoes has posted higher numbers than Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, The Sandman and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law in the same period, taking the number one position globally.
What's even more interesting, though, is that Echoes has taken top spot despite terrible review scores from critics, with the show currently rated as rotten on the movies and TV review site Rotten Tomatoes with a paltry 24% critic score.
Indeed, critics have not been kind at all to Echoes. Dustin Rowles of Pajiba, for example, states that:
"Netflix has made a mint on mystery series full of flat, uninteresting characters that are driven purely by plot and mid-tier actors who provide the sheen of prestige... Echoes, starring Michelle Monaghan, is the latest of these, and boy is it bad."
While Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com says:
"The potential of Echoes starts to drain before the premiere is even over as it gets goofier and goofier in a way that’s not entertaining but frustrating."
In addition, Adrian Horton of the Guardian says Echoes, "commits one of the true sins of peak TV, which is to be boring", and Dan Fienberg of the Hollywood Reporter says it is "trashy, twisted fun for a few episodes and then boring and over-explained."
So why is Echoes so popular, then?
A bit of sleuthing reveals that not all critic reviews are bad for Echoes, though.
Caroline Framke of Variety describes the show like this:
"It’s twisty, but repetitive, making sure every plot point gets several scenes to marinate. All the while, Michelle Monaghan throws herself into the challenge of portraying twins with the delirious freedom that the show’s hyperbolic framework allows."
While Laruen Piester of TheWrap concludes that:
"Starting about halfway through the seven-episode limited series, this particular wacky Netflix mystery show becomes something a whole lot weirder and a whole lot more interesting than most that have come before."
Clearly, then, there seems to be a case that a lot of critics could have straight got it bang wrong on this one.
Then there's the fact that Echoes is a "limited series", with just 7 episodes in its season. My personal take is that this is an attractive element to Echoes, as too many new TV shows today seem commissioned on 10-episode deals that see the quality plunge in filler episodes. Long series like this are big time commitments, too, so I personally like the sound of a TV show that tells its story in a shorter time frame.
Whether or not Echoes' limited series nature played into it being watched more is unclear, but it seems possible to me.
And, interestingly, could short limited series like this (I am also thinking of Obi-Wan on Disney+) become more of the norm for streaming services going forward? It would sure help keep initial series' costs down and, also, play into the 'completion' figure metric that the industry is so beholden to right now.
As recently flagged by The Sandman creator Niel Gaiman, the percentage of streamers who fully complete a show in the first few weeks of its being made available is a key benchmark right now in terms of what shows get renewed for further series. So, you could have a show that millions of people watch, and maybe even enjoy, but if they don't watch every episode to complete the series shortly after launch then that can be seen as a black mark against commissioning a new season.
The smartness of that metric seems a bit dodgy to me, as I personally am not signed up at all to the dump-everything-all-at-once-binge-it-all-at-once model that has been so popular over the past few years. I like watching an episode (or maybe two) a week, stretching out the storytelling. But then again, I grew up in the pre-streaming a la carte days where you only got one episode to watch a week, so maybe I am in the minority here.
I have noticed, though, that more big new shows appear to be adopting a more old-fashioned one-episode-released-a-week model, recent examples being The Rings of Power and She-Hulk, so maybe this metric's importance is on the wane. Echoes, though, was released all at once, with all seven episodes available to stream from day one, so maybe this - along with its limited series nature - encouraged people to plow on and watch it. The 1.12 billion minutes viewed would seem to suggest so.