The new HBO video-game adaptation could be the next big end-of-civilization franchise, much like AMC’s ”The Walking Dead“ was years ago
The “The Last of Us” premiere was the first major breakout series premiere of the year. Multiple factors seem set to make the show a hit with audiences. On the one hand, it’s riding the current wave of video game adaptations as creators look to tap into games as a source of valuable IP. Other recent shows like “Arcane,” “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” and “Halo” have proven that drawing from video games as inspiration for series activates existing game fan bases while also bringing the content to a larger audience. “The Last of Us” also stars Pedro Pascal in his first leading role on a TV series since the massive success of Disney+’s “The Mandalorian.”
But “The Last of Us” is also hoping to win over fans of the apocalyptic subgenre with its depiction of a post-apocalyptic America ravaged by a killer fungus. The apocalyptic subgenre has become something of a staple in recent years — whether because of or despite the pandemic we’ve all lived through.
Demand for apocalyptic content grew throughout 2020 and peaked in 2021, according to Parrot Analytics‘ data, which takes into account consumer research, streaming, downloads and social media, among other engagement.
This was driven in part by the sheer amount of shows coming out with different visions of how the world might end. Series in the genre that premiered in 2020 such as “Raised by Wolves,” “Snowpiercer” and “The Stand” still ranked among the 10 most in-demand apocalyptic shows in 2022. Several high profile apocalyptic shows that premiered in 2021, however, like “Sweet Tooth” and “Y:The Last Man” didn’t hold up as well. This seems to point to viewers losing interest with the genre by the second year of a global pandemic and 2022 was characterized by a drop off in demand for apocalyptic content overall.
What really stands out when looking at the most in-demand apocalyptic shows of the past year, is the dominance of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” franchise. “The Walking Dead” was the globally most in-demand apocalyptic show in 2022, with 59.18 times the average series demand. Not only did the original show in the franchise have by far the most in-demand in this genre, three spinoffs in the franchise also feature in the ranking of the most in-demand apocalyptic shows of the year.
With “The Walking Dead” having just wrapped up its 11-season run in November and“Raised by Wolves” canceled and removed from HBO Max, the two most in-demand apocalyptic shows have come to an end. Additionally, The CW’s “The 100,” Paramount+’s “The Stand,” HBO’s “Station Eleven” and “Kingdom” have all ended, leaving a void for fans of this type of content who are looking for more than another “Walking Dead” spinoff. “The Last of Us” might be the show that will re-engage fans of the genre with a fresh take on how the world ends.
While “The Walking Dead” has a number of spinoffs either already released or teed up to fill the void of the original series, the pre-release demand for “The Last of Us” was outpacing the demand for several of those spinoffs in the lead up to their premieres. The amount of interest it generated ahead of its premiere puts it on track to be not just one of the most in-demand apocalyptic shows but one of the most successful premieres overall in recent months — with 4.7 million viewers across linear and the HBO platforms last Sunday, making it HBO’s biggest premiere since 2010.
Parrot Analytics is the industry leader in global audience demand measurement. The company measures global supply and demand for entertainment, capturing over 2 billion audiences expressing demand for content and talent in over 100 languages, across all platforms, in 200+ countries. Parrot Analytics' partners use this knowledge to help better understand global supply and demand across all platforms to value content and talent, drive better production, distribution, acquisition and marketing decisions, as well as increase D2C growth and retention. For more information, see www.parrotanalytics.com.