Star Wars: Numbers show Clone Wars dominated 2020, reached huge audience

Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 709 “Old Friends Not Forgotten” - Image Courtesy Disney+
Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 709 “Old Friends Not Forgotten” - Image Courtesy Disney+ /
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Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 711 “Shattered” – Image Courtesy Disney+ /

Star Wars: A new hope against the odds: Clone Wars provably nails it

Thus, with the announcement of The Mandalorian and especially with the surprise that Clone Wars was being resurrected, reason for cautious hope broke through like a ray of sunshine coming through dark storm clouds.  I love The Mandalorian, as I have noted before, for its excellent storytelling and am glad for it.  But as cute as “Baby Yoda” is, the show is not as deep or emotional as the great moments I have mentioned from the Lucas-era movies; it is not on that epic level, nor is it trying to be, nor does it need to be, and that’s fine.

Not only was it refreshing it was not trying to be all things to all people, but the idea of telling scaled-down Star Wars stories in live-action format is welcome.  But with the final arc of final-season of Clone Wars, we see that Disney is capable of producing 10/10-level amazingly deep, resonant, built-up, theatrical-quality, and epic Star Wars content with transcendent payoffs—pretty much every moment of the final four episodesthat can earn rave reviews from critics and fans alike and actually unite, not divide, the fanbase.

Even so, it was clear that Disney put way more effort into marketing The Mandalorian, even creating a separate behind-the-scenes show about the making of the show.  In contrast, I saw almost no marketing for Clone Wars.  And what’s so satisfying for Clone Wars fans is that it partly outperformed The Mandalorian almost entirely on the backs of the show’s fans and the word-of-mouth buzz

Stream The Clone Wars on Disney+.

Maybe a pandemic helped, but the numbers for Clone Wars speak for themselves, all without the huge marketing/media boost that Mandalorian got before its release.

And perhaps now, besides giving Disney a full-proof roadmap, the world is finally awakening to the amazingness that is Clone Wars, and the stunning number prove this.

For one thing, Clone Wars has four of the top thirty TV episodes of all time and three of the top ten by user ratings with at least 1,000 viewer ratings or more: No. 26, No. 6, No. 5, No. 4 and for shows with 5,000 or more user votes: No. 24, No. 6, No. 5, and No. 4, both having these be the four final episodes I have references before in ascending order.

Yeah, this has Clone Wars in line with shows like Breaking Bad, Chernobyl, Game of Thrones, and Mr. Robot.

“Ratings” for streaming content is an iffy concept, but Parrot Analytics has a useful substitute measure involving individual consumption (i.e., downloading and streaming), social media posting and engagement “for” the content, or consuming material about the content (e.g., videos or articles), putting these together into a measure the analysis firm terms “demand expression.” It is a weighted measuring system, so downloading a pirate copy is weighted much more than a like or a retweet of content, and a personally written post fits in between. Backing up the claim about the passion of fans for Clone Wars being instrumental in the success of Clone Wars, Parrot’s Wade Dayson-Penney provided the following chart showing up demand expressions for Clone Wars and The Mandalorian:

Image Courtesy Parrot Analytics
Image Courtesy Parrot Analytics /

The two lines are not concurrent time-wise, as it tracks demand for each series before, during, and after the series aired, and the two did not air at the same time (The Mandalorian ran about seven-and-a-half-weeks from November to December, Clone Wars from February to May over about eleven-and-a-half weeks. Clone Wars had far-higher pre-release demand expressions by fans than The Mandalorian, and also had the highest single-week stretch of peak of demand expressions of all streaming content in 2020 thus far, including The Mandalorian.

For the entire first half of 2020, Clone Wars was the third-highest in digital original streaming content (behind only Stranger Things and The Mandalorian, way ahead of series like Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico, The Witcher, and Tiger King, and CBS’s Star Trek: Picard and the 10th-highest overall streaming series in terms of demand expressions, with over 56 times the demand expressions of the average streaming content in the U.S. for that for that entire six-month stretch, as Payson-Denny explained in an e-mail. It held the top spot in demand expressions for digital streaming originals throughout the coronavirus lockdown period, too.

Even more impressive, while The Mandalorian had overall longer heights of demand expression, at its weekly peak, Clone Wars surpassed not just The Mandalorian, but all series streaming content, both digital originals and all streaming TV series, so far in 2020; that’s right, no other series reached the peak level of viewing in one week as Clone Wars, which had close to 130 times the average amount of demand expressions in the U.S. for streaming content.

Even if you go back an entire year, to the beginning of July, 2019, only Stranger Things, the latest season of which premiered that month, had a higher week peak-level than Clone Wars.  Throughout that entire year period, the Clone Wars, with not even on air for nearly eight months of out that 12-month period, was the fourth-most in-demand digital original streaming series and earned the 24th highest in-demand expressions of any show, with over 36 times the U.S. demand for an average series.

In fact, a whole month before the season seven premiere, after just the season seven trailer’s January 22 release, the show saw a huge increase in demand, landing it the number-nine overall streaming spot, and the following week, while dropping slightly, it held the fourth digital original spot.  The first week of February, it fell to tenth digital original, then ninth the week after, and, finally, during the season seven premiere as the end of the third week of February, it climbed to sixth, not far behind The Witcher and Picard.

The new season’s first full week of availability saw it rise to the fifth overall and second digital original spot, only behind Stranger Things.  The show began March tenth overall and third with digital originals, staying in the same spot overall and rising to second, again, with digital originals the following week.  It lost its top-ten overall spot but stayed second among streaming originals in the third week of March, falling to third digital original the following week.  It stayed even spot-wise among originals the following week, fell to fifth original the first full week of April, then rose to fourth mid-April, with the first installment of the truly spectacular final arc premiering at the end of the week.

And wow, did the fans spread their approval for that episode, as word of mouth and fans telling everyone they knew “YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!” brought the series the next week to the number-one overall original slot and the fourth overall slot the week the second episode of the arc premiered.

And the following week, when the penultimate Clone Wars episode premiered, the show stayed in the first digital original spot (though with far higher numbers) and rose to the first overall streaming spot. The ensuing week, when the series finale premiered earlier than usual on Star Wars Day, it maintained both top spots with dramatically higher demand that dwarfed everything else, including nearly one-and-a-half times the demand of the second overall spot (Spongebob) and far more than doubling the number-two and number-three originals, The Mandalorian and Stranger Things, respectively, achieving the peak demand of anything thus far this year.

Image Courtesy Parrot Analytics
Image Courtesy Parrot Analytics /

Even after the final episode was released, throughout the entire following week, it stayed in the number one original slot for the fourth consecutive week and only fell to number two in the overall streaming competition. The next week, it was still seventh overall and barely got edged out by Stranger Things in digital originals, coming in just behind at number two. The final full week of May, the show was still second in digital originals, and the next week, Parrot’s Payson-Denney confirmed to me in an e-mail that, a full month after the premiere of the final episode, Clone Wars still held the third spot among original streaming content.

It was fourth in originals the following week, was still fifth in mid-June, maintained that spot the next week, and even last week—two months after the final episode premiered, it was seventh in digital originals, seeing forty times the U.S. demand expressions for an average show.