With its Emmys, critical acclaim and role in making transgender rights a mainstream social issue, “Transparent” is by all accounts a hit — the standard-bearer for Amazon Studios’ original-series efforts. But Amazon, like competitors Netflix and Hulu, doesn’t release viewership information. So what’s been unknown since “Transparent” premiered in 2014 is whether the show is also a hit in the most fundamental sense — how many people watch.
In ratings provided exclusively to Variety by the measurement company Symphony Advanced Media, “Transparent” falls short of other original streaming series on Netflix and Hulu, and even some of its fellow Amazon shows.
Looking at Sept. 21 to May 2 — roughly the same period as the broadcast TV season — Symphony measured viewership of Amazon, Hulu and Netflix originals within 35 days of their premieres. “Transparent” season two averaged a 0.68 rating among adults 18-49 and 1.49 million total adult viewers.
That places “Transparent” on a much different, much lower plane than the one occupied by that highest-rated streaming series that Symphony measured: Netflix’s “Fuller House.” The ’90s sitcom revival averaged an 11.31 demo rating and 21.51 million total adults.
Among the other half-hour streaming originals that out-rated “Transparent” were Netflix’s “The Ranch” (4.34, 9.54 million); “F is for Family” (3.47, 7.01 million); “Master of None” (3.28, 5.85 million); “Love” (2.18, 4.09 million); “Flaked” (0.97, 2.07 million); and “With Bob & David” (1.04, 1.98 million); as well as Hulu’s “The Mindy Project (0.88, 1.63 million).
“Transparent” was also outperformed by Amazon’s highest rated original series, “The Man in the High Castle,” which averaged a 1.42 demo rating and 3.44 million total adults.
More surprising, “Transparent” barely edges out fellow Amazon half-hour “Catastrophe” (0.44, 1.27 million) in live-plus-35. When the measurement window is shortened, “Catastrophe” comes out ahead in total adult viewers. Within seven days of premiere — live-plus-seven, which Nielsen now treats as the standard for television-series measurement — “Catastrophe” averaged 755,000 total adults compared to 612,000 for “Transparent.” (Symphony did not measure Amazon’s other half-hour series, “Red Oaks” and “Mozart in the Jungle.”)
Using live-plus-seven, “Transparent” also comes up short against the top half-hour series on HBO. In Nielsen’s total-viewer counts, “Girls” (1.31 million), “Silicon Valley” (2.42 million) and “Veep” (1.53 million) yield audiences several times greater than those of “Transparent” — and that’s without including digital viewing from HBO Now and HBO Go.
An Amazon Studios spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Most of the highest rated series that Symphony measures originated on Netflix, including “Making a Murderer” (9.65 demo rating and 19.35 million total adults in live-plus-35); “Daredevil” (6.03, 11.65 million); “Jessica Jones” (4.52, 9.30 million); and “House of Cards” (4.10, 9.05 million). That makes sense, given Netflix’s customer base. The service boasts 46 million U.S. subscribers compared to Hulu’s 12 million. Amazon doesn’t release subscription numbers for its Prime service. Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated last year that Amazon has 54 million Prime subscribers, but it’s unknown how many of those access original series, which serve as a supplement to the service’s principal function, providing free two-day shipping to shoppers.
But Hulu miniseries “11.22.63” does approach Netflix levels with a 2.53 demo rating and 5.31 million total adults. “The Path” (0.99, 2.05 million) also performed respectably — although live-plus-35 ratings for the most recent installments of it and “The Mindy Project,” both of which release episodes on a weekly basis, are not yet available.
And while most streaming series demonstrate similar growth to one another when moving from seven days to 35, two shows diverge from the norm. One is Netflix’s “Making a Murderer.” The documentary series grew total adult viewership 511% from live-plus-seven to live-plus-35. “Fuller House,” by comparison, grew only 59%.
That growth indicates that “Making a Murderer” benefited from strong word-of-mouth. The same may be true for “The Ranch.” The Netflix multi-camera comedy starring Ashton Kutcher grew 253% from live-plus-seven to the wider window — which for it was 32 days, due to the cut off date.
Symphony began in September tracking digital and television ratings. The company gathers data for its ratings through audio code recognition software that passively measures the viewing habits of a panel of more than 15,000 people.