The biggest television phenomenon of the last year is a series that went off air nearly four years ago—and, let’s be honest, wasn’t that popular when it aired the first time.
That former USA procedural drama Suits found an astounding new life on streaming—it is available on Netflix and Peacock—has been a major industry story. Suits? Really? The cast was even given a victory-lap invite to present at this year’s Golden Globe Awards (sans Meghan Markle, of course, who didn’t deign to appear).
It turns out that Suits is the well-dressed poster series of a trend that’s dominating streaming. While it’s been common knowledge that libraries of old series are golden geese for streamers’ portfolios—the likes of Gilmore Girls, Friends, and The Office have and continue to rank among the most-streamed titles—recent or still-airing network procedurals have spiked in popularity.
Some, like Suits, never had the cultural cache of those classic comedies. While Grey’s Anatomy and NCIS, which were among 2023’s most streamed series, have had boffo linear ratings that are reflected in their recent streaming popularity, there are the other titles whose dominance seem more surprising, like Heartland and Supernatural. Joining that group, as journalists learned Saturday, is the Nathan Fillion-starring cop procedural The Rookie.
This last week, The Rookie ranked in the Top 10 of most watched shows on Netflix globally, making it one of the most popular series in the world right now. At Saturday’s Television Critics Association conference, Disney Television Group President Craig Erwich said it’s also currently the number-two drama series on Hulu, with nearly 500 million hours streamed since 2018—half of which occurred just this last year. Those stats seem to far outpace the show’s linear viewership. For the 2022-23 TV season, it ranked number seven in ratings, behind other drama series like S.W.A.T., The Equalizer, NCIS: Hawaii, and Fire Country.
Asked for his perspective on why procedurals are having this streaming moment—and what it is about The Rookie that has made it part of the trend—writer and executive producer Alexi Hawley said, “The Rookie has stakes. People die. Bad things happen. But I think, ultimately, our show is always exciting. It’s always a ride. You really care about these characters, and you want to go on that journey with them, and I think that kind of applies. And I also think that the 22 episodes of it, the whole season. We’re so used to, on streaming, these short orders and so you can’t really invest. At this point, we’re going into 100 episodes and that’s something people can have on. They can watch them over and over again.”
Co-star Richard T. Jones then chimed in: “And our show’s awesome.”
Next to Jones, Nathan Fillion laughed. “I think people like the show because of the characters, because of the interactions,” he said. “These are things that we can all relate to. The fact that it’s a procedural I think is just the form that our show takes. Here is the form in which we are presenting these characters, these relationships, these interactions—I don’t think it’s the procedural of it. I think it’s fun.”