Nickelodeon’s animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “Avatar: The Legend of Korra” rank among the top 2.7% of all TV shows in global audience demand to date (through October 16, 2022), according to Parrot Analytics’ data, which takes into account consumer research, streaming, downloads and social media, among other things. And that bodes well for new projects that are in the pipeline from the franchise.
What’s particularly impressive is that both shows maintain excellent demand despite not having aired any new episodes since 2008 and 2014, respectively. “Avatar: The Last Airbender” even managed to become the most requested Nickelodeon show of the era, alongside the hugely popular hit “SpongeBob SquarePants”.
Normally, revisiting linear series that premiered long before the public had ever heard of streaming originals wouldn’t be a top priority. But there are big plans in store for the future of this franchise that will bring ripple effects for two of Hollywood’s big players.
Netflix is expected to debut its long-running live-action adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” in 2023. Meanwhile, original series creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are developing new animated projects set within the “Avatar” universe at Nickelodeon parent company Paramount Global under the new production banner Avatar Studios. The latter will feature original films, series and shorts that will debut in theatrical, linear and streaming.
Based on how well “The Last Airbender” and “Korra” continue to perform, there’s reason to believe these franchise expansions will be successful.
Both original series have enjoyed a second life on streaming over the past decade with boosts of access via Netflix and Paramount+ (née CBS All Access). In fact, both shows have maintained excellent global audience demand (top 2.7%) dating back to 2016 as a result. Over the same period, most Netflix and Paramount+ originals have received only average demand (top 64.1%).
DiMartino and Konietzko are currently developing an animated film for Paramount as their first new project. Since the start of 2020, five of the 30 most requested films in the US have been animated titles, while at least one animation title has been in the top 10 highest-grossing global films every year since 2015. enter a friendly enough marketplace. The demand share for animations in the US grew from 8.9% in September 2021 to 10.7% in September 2022.
Netflix users may be wary of hoping for a new live-action adaptation of a popular animated title after “Cowboy Bebop” was canceled after one season. Ultimately, artistic quality is one of the most important factors and cannot be algorithmically reversed. But it’s the way these ‘Avatar’ series have remained popular that is particularly good for the commercial success of future installments.
A show’s reach indicates the breadth of a title’s popularity, as it represents the total number of unique users expressing demand for a title. “The Last Airbender” has an exceptional reach of 46.56 times the average title, placing it in the top 0.41% of all shows. Global Travelability indicates the popularity of a show outside of its home market, a category in which “The Last Airbender” ranks in the top 1.36% of all shows worldwide. “Korra” scores equally well, with reach score of 23.9 times (top 1.33% of all shows) and global travelability of 6.72 times (top 2.77% of all shows).
What’s also interesting is that despite initially premiering in 2005 and 2012, respectively, the shows now resonate the most with Gen Z (ages 13-22). This means that new generations have discovered the “Avatar” franchise since its closure. To keep the interest of fans, the company has released 11 console games, 50 online games, six tabletop games and one mobile game since 2006. This is often an effective tool for building franchise affinity among fandoms while also creating a funnel of engagement.
Overall, US demand for both series has remained above average over the past 12 months. They compare favorably with other enduring animated titles from the same era at the time, such as “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”, “Teen Titans” and “Samurai Jack” – all of which have been revisited or revived in recent years.
All this means that both original titles penetrate deep into the market and appeal to a diverse range of regional audiences, while continuing to find new fans. That, coupled with their impressive longevity, suggests a passionate and consistently engaged audience. That’s a strong foundation for launching new material and, with a built-in fan base, these upcoming additions should help attract an audience early on in their runs.
Brandon Katz is an industry strategist at Parrot Analytics, a WrapPRO partner. Visit the Data and Analysis Hub to learn more about Parrot Analytics.
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