‘Ted Lasso’ Is Apple TV+’s Biggest Hit… but Not That Big

Variety Intelligence Platform; Ted Lasso; courtesy of Apple TV+

It’s no secret that the Jason Sudeikis-starring scripted comedy “Ted Lasso,” which premiered last August, has been one of Apple TV+’s biggest triumphs to date.  

The series, which dropped its first episode of S2 today, has received 20 Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe. 

Moreover, data provided exclusively to Variety Intelligence Platform by connected TV analytics provider TVision suggests “Ted Lasso” has reached more consumers than any other Apple TV+ original TV show or film.  

“Ted Lasso” has been viewed by panel members 8.4x as much as the average Apple TV+ title TVision has measured since Apple TV+ launched in November 2019, a figure higher than that of the glitzy Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon-starring drama, “The Morning Show.”  

TVision measures viewing across all major U.S. SVODs and AVODs. The analytics company tracks viewing of nearly 25,000 titles among 5,000 households (14,000 individuals) across the U.S. on connected TVs.  

While TVision doesn’t track viewership on mobile, the figures still help to indicate which streaming titles are best performing, as most time spent with video is done via connected TVs and connected TV devices.  

But TVision’s data also shows that though “Ted Lasso” was the most viewed Apple title among its panel members since Apple TV+’s launch, big hits from competing streamers, such as Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” and Disney+’s “Hamilton,” were watched by far more panel members since then. The "Ted Lasso" ranking among the top streaming titles across the leading streaming services is 89th overall, a distant also-ran to the top 10 hits.   

It’s a reminder of Apple TV+’s likely relatively low reach. While Apple doesn’t disclose any audience figures on Apple TV+, data provided to VIP+ by YouGov suggests the streamer hasn’t caught on as quickly as its rivals. In early July, 10% of surveyed U.S. adults said they used Apple TV+ in the past month. That figure was 25% for Disney+, which launched the same month as Apple’s SVOD, and 21% for HBO Max, which launched nearly seven months after Apple TV+. 

That may be surprising given how aggressive Apple TV+ was in handing out freebies until June of this year and suggests extended free trials aren’t necessarily a growth hack. 

The addressable reach of Apple’s programs could be something that’s particularly important to directors, showrunners or actors, who may prioritize having their projects seen by the biggest possible audience, rather than a handsome check that working with Apple TV+ could bring.  

But what’s even more encouraging for Apple is that some of its newer original series, like “Lisey’s Story,” “Physical” and “Schmigadoon!” are not only getting praise from critics and audiences, but they are launching to audiences bigger than “Lasso” did.  

For example, those three series were among the top debuting Apple TV+ series by share of opening weekend streams among Reelgood users, data provided exclusively to VIP shows. (Reelgood’s ranking of Apple TV+ series differs from TVision’s because the former company is measuring a title’s performance for the first weekend after it launched, while the latter is taking into account titles’ viewership from launch to date.) 

On the other hand, the healthy starts for these three series may be more indicative of the fact that “Lasso” was a hit for Apple that built slowly over time rather than winning over audience right from the start. Regardless, this season of “Ted Lasso” seems poised to continue that hot streak, if the mostly positive reviews given to S2 so far serve as any indication.