Succession Finale

Nobody watched it.

Oh, that’s not true. But relatively speaking it is. 2.9 million people in a country of 331.9 million. A rounding error. I mean everybody says the U.S. population s 330 million, not 331.9.

But if you read the press, you’d think that the “Succession” finale was the Super Bowl.

Now I see no reason to delve too deeply into the show itself, although I will say what little I saw lacked the gravitas of a great European drama, “Borgen,” or “The Bureau” or “Line of Duty,” take your pick. “Succession” was a cartoon. Not radically different from a Marvel movie if you think about it. But those who watched it could feel good about themselves, that they understood high finance, the workings of the media and how families transfer wealth and power. Ain’t that a laugh. Want to know more about that…well, it’s basically boring, and you don’t. Which is why it was gussied up for television, made as entertainment.

Now let’s add some more perspective. In the U.S., HBO has 46.8 million subscribers. HBO is the Tiffany network, not CBS. And almost everybody who subscribes chose not to watch the “Succession” finale, and they’re paying for the service! As for those who are not, they’re completely out of the loop, they see no reason to lay down their cash, they can live without the service, never mind “Succession,” but, once again, you’d think “Succession” is the most popular show on television, that it is single-handedly carrying the flag of HBO. But it’s not, nowhere close.

“White Lotus” had an average of 15.5 million viewers per episode. But it gets even worse. “Euphoria” had an average of 19.5 million viewers per episode. And “House of the Dragon” and “The Last of Us” 30 million.

Now HBO says that the last season of “Succession” was averaging 8.7 million viewers per episode. Which is not nothing, Then again, if these were diehard viewers, why weren’t they tuned in on Sunday night? They obviously didn’t need to see the finale that bad. Which was pitched as a modern day “Who Shot J.R.?”

HBO gets all the love, but the big kahuna is Netflix, by far. Netflix represents between 70% and 80% of the top ten most viewed shows every week. Combine Hulu, Disney+ and HBO Max and they don’t even add up to Netflix’s share. But Netflix is in the crapper and the others are big winners. That’s the story that’s been spread.

As for final seasons… Netflix’s “Ozark” was the second most streamed original program in 2022, and number four overall. Did we see all these stories about the finale of “Ozark”? Of course not!

Because “Ozark” didn’t play by the rules. Didn’t dribble out episodes week by week. Satiating the news media but not the viewer.

If you thought that media would drive attention and viewership to “Succession,” that’s not the case. Otherwise numbers would have expanded exponentially, they didn’t.

In other words, it was a circle jerk.

I’d argue that “Succession” would have done better if it was dropped all at once, like a Netflix show. Because then no one would have felt left out. You watch a Netflix show when you want, you don’t feel left out if you don’t binge it on day one. And frequently, you binge a series, maybe even the whole thing, long after it’s been released. You see the buzz ultimately reaches you, you want to be a member of the club. Whereas if you’re not watching “Succession” week by week on HBO, you’re left out, and there’s little incentive to catch up.

Netflix shows build on word of mouth, HBO shows still rely on hype.

But conventional hype does not work in a world with a zillion choices.

But my main point here is media is out of touch with the TV viewing masses, never mind those who don’t even have cable or streaming accounts, who are dedicated to TikTok, which is the choice of the young ‘uns, primarily because it’s more human and more interesting than most of the fare on broadcast, cable and streaming outlets.

But TikTok is pooh-poohed by the press. Seen as a youth folly. Déclassé. And the funny thing is the people testifying as to TikTok’s faults never even go on the service. Which is like reviewing a TV program without ever seeing it.

But my main point here isn’t about “Succession,” most people didn’t watch and don’t care, but how the media is covering other stories!

Like its infatuation with DeSantis’s botched Twitter announcement. I hate to tell you, the regular public doesn’t care. They didn’t tune in, never planned to tune in, and it will have no effect on whether they vote for DeSantis or not. But if you read the news stories, the launch wounded DeSantis significantly. But that’s completely untrue.

It’s even worse in music, where it’s all Taylor Swift all the time. When the biggest act in the business today is Morgan Wallen. But the media’s decided he’s a racist backwoods hick so he doesn’t even get a fraction of the attention. And in case you didn’t know, Morgan Wallen sells out stadiums too. His album will be bumped from number one this week by a plethora of Swift special projects, physical product that’s counted disproportionately by the music business charts so that Swift and her team/label can tell everybody how well they’re doing. But, Wallen will be number one again the week after that. Wallen’s material has got staying power.

But neither Swift nor Wallen are number one on the Spotify Top 50 today. That position is held by Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma’s “Ella Baila Sola.” One of your favorites, right? You spin Armado’s album “Desvelado” constantly! Let’s be real, you’ve never even heard of it, it’s all news to you!

And Karol G. is playing stadiums! You might have heard her name, but you can’t sing a song.

As a matter of fact, you probably can’t sing a song from the new work by Swift or Wallen either, because in truth they’re both niche products!

The music world is completely different these days. A better indicator of popularity is the touring chart, that’s where fans lay down hard cash to see their favorites. You can have a big hit on the Spotify Top 50 and barely be able to sell a ticket!

The news is distorted, it’s out of touch with the populace.

We’ve known this for years, but it’s only gotten worse.

I was served a video of this guy on TikTok… An evangelical Christian. Who ultimately went to a non-Christian law school. The professor testified to some fact and the guy freaked out, stood up and said it wasn’t true and walked out and then dropped the class. And ultimately realized he was the one who was wrong, he’d been brainwashed. And then in a series of videos he explains the right wing evangelical Christian mind-set. There’s no way you can reach these people. But the left wing media, the middle of the road media, keep believing they can, but they can’t. That’s right, I learned more about the country’s political landscape on TikTok than I did in the “New York Times,” never mind the “Wall Street Journal” or the “Washington Post” or MSNBC or… Gave me a whole new perspective. The coming election is not about ideas, but getting out the vote. But we’re going to read about the horse race on a granular level for eighteen months.

You see the traditional media doesn’t want to lose power. It may be online, but it’s almost the same as it ever was, with the same kinds of writers. Today it’s not about going out with your notebook and getting the story, it’s about reading or listening to the words of those who are living the story. They’re readily available online, then again, mainstream media is caught up in this inane story that online is the devil. That we must keep kids from social media. Cut down their screen time. When in truth, the joke is on them, not only are the kids alright, they’re in the know!

And the point of all this is not to argue or offend you, but to wake you up, the world is much more vast than you’re being told, much more complicated. The successes are not as big as you’re being told, certainly not compared to the successes of the much smaller pre-internet world, and there are numerous players that have sustaining audiences that get no love from the media, but are adored by their fans.

This is a huge problem. It’s a distortion of the landscape.

Used to be you could get truth from a record. Now you’re better off checking out streaming TV, TikTok even more. You hear about all these influencers trying to make money… That’s the minority. Today the script has flipped, the public is the star. People want to be heard and the vast majority are listening.

But not the machers in the mainstream press.

Comments are closed