Suspicion Confirmed: A Lot of People Watched Only Murders in the Building

Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/ HULU

We already knew Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building was doing well, but now the Disney-owned streamer is getting a bit more specific about the show’s success. The half-hour crime mystery from sister studio 20th Television “is the most-watched comedy ever on Hulu, by a good measure,” Hulu Originals president Craig Erwich told Vulture this week. And yes, a company rep clarifies, that metric includes individual seasons of library content such as The Golden Girls as well as next-day streams of network series.

Although Hulu doesn’t release specific numbers for any title, and streaming ratings in general come with a ton of asterisks attached, in the case of Only Murders, plenty of third-party evidence is pointing to the show’s success.

The Steve Martin–Martin Short–Selena Gomez comedy has been a fixture in Nielsen’s weekly streaming top ten since its first three episodes dropped all at once in late August, tallying nearly a half-billion minutes of audience viewing during its opening weekend and outdrawing several Netflix series with more available hours of content. That matches information Hulu put out right after the show’s premiere, when the streamer said Only Murders had generated its largest-ever audience for a comedy premiere. Erwich said the series continued to pick up viewership from there. “Every week when a new episode would come on, the audience just built,” he said. “You watched the word of mouth grow.”

Parrot Analytics, which measures global and domestic performance of streaming content via its demand index, backs up Hulu’s growth claim for Only Murders. The company tells Vulture that when the series debuted on August 31, it had about 16 times the audience demand in the U.S. as an average show. But by the time the season-one finale dropped last week, the show was generating 37 times typical demand — a massive 135 percent growth rate from where the series began, good enough to land it among the top 0.2 percent of all the titles Parrot tracks. When measured against those thousands of titles, Only Murders ranked as the 14th most in-demand show in the U.S. last Wednesday, the day after the finale.

Hulu has already ordered a second season of Only Murders, and Erwich confirmed that filming will begin on the new season next month. He said the show’s success is “what you get when you’re in business with singular talent,” such as the show’s stars and executive producers Dan Fogelman (This Is Us) and John Hoffman. And while Erwich said the show’s tone is “extremely specific,” he added, “This is also a show that has something for everybody, different characters to come into the show through. It invites a lot of people in and kind of delivers something for everybody. It is an ideal show for us.” Critics seem to agree: As Erwich pointed out, the series holds a 100 percent certified “fresh” ranking on Rotten Tomatoes.

While the outside data supports Hulu’s claim that Only Murders is the streamer’s biggest-ever comedy, it should be noted that, like almost all streaming “ratings” offered by platforms, this has not been independently verified and is not easily comparable to the numbers long used to measure linear TV programs or the theatrical box office. Streaming is also growing rapidly, with tens of millions of U.S. consumers now subscribing to various platforms versus even two or three years ago — including Hulu. So on one level, it’s a bit easier for shows to garner record audiences since the universe of available viewers is much bigger. On another, the competition has grown even more exponentially, which means it’s also harder for shows to stand out and get the immediate attention of viewers. Still, no matter what caveats you want to attach, it seems clear that Only Murders in the Building is a big, bloody hit for Hulu.

A Lot of People Watched Only Murders in the Building