Disney’s Craig Erwich Looks To Settle Linear Vs. Streaming Debate, Shares Stats On ‘The Rookie’, ‘OMITB’, ‘Abbott’ & ‘Golden Bachelor’

Once the 800 lb gorillas of television viewing, the broadcast networks have seen their statute diminished, with viewing migrating to streaming. The heads of two of the Big 3 broadcast networks now also oversee original programming for the sibling streamer, including Disney Television Group President Craig Erwich who is in charge of content for ABC, Hulu Originals as well as Freeform and Disney Branded Television.

In his opening remarks at TCA Saturday, Erwich argued about the value of programs running across platforms.

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Pre-empting perennial questions about how he and his team decide what goes on linear vs. streaming, Erwich said, “I had one resolution this year, and it’s to get people thinking differently on this topic. It’s not one versus the other. Versus implies an opposition or comparison. These are complementary platforms which reach two very different types of viewers and they’re non-duplicative.”

Touting the combined reach of Disney’s linear networks and streaming platforms, which he said generated market-leading nearly 54 billion hours of viewing in the U.S. in 2023, 10 billion more viewing hours than the company’s closest competitor, Erwich said that Grey’s Anatomy was Disney+’s #1 show globally in 2023, with over a billion hours streamed. That was before the Grey’s Anatomy library is set to become available on the combined Disney-Hulu app for bundle subscribers and the standalone Hulu platform next month.

The Rookie, headed into its sixth season on ABC, is the #2 drama on Hulu and has generated more than 500 million hours viewed on the streamer since its 2018 launch, Erwich said.

“But here’s something you probably didn’t know: nearly half of those hours occurred in just the last year,” he added. “Fans are still discovering that show and will continue for years to come. That’s the staying power of a good drama.”

For Abbott Elementary, ABC’s #1 current series on Hulu whose audience grew over 30% in its second season, viewing is evenly split between linear and streaming, Erwich said, adding, “This is a show for everyone. Older audiences watch it on ABC. Younger audiences watch it on Hulu, highlighting the complementary nature of these platforms.”

ABC earlier today gave the award-winning comedy an early Season 4 renewal.

Erwich then spoke of the recent ABC run of Season 1 of Hulu’s hit mystery comedy series Only Murders In the Building, calling the results “fantastic.”

“On linear, the series has reached over 11 million unique viewers, most of whom had never watched the show previously,” he said. “But the impact on streaming was even greater. Many of those ABC viewers migrated over to Hulu to continue watching the series. In January alone, first streams of Only Murders on Hulu increased +40% and hours streamed rose 39%. Again, underscoring how these platforms are additive and complementary to one another.”

Later during the Q&A portion of the presentation, Erwich hinted that more Only Murders may be coming to ABC. The series was recently renewed for a fourth season on Hulu.

ABC had already announced that the premiere of ABC’s The Golden Bachelor was ABC’s most watched unscripted series episode ever on Hulu and that the entire season reached more than 43 million viewers across all platforms.

Erwich today added that “over a third of the audience on Hulu was new to the franchise and had never previously watched any Bachelor series at all.”

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