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Facebook's prestige Watch show flops, despite critical praise

Tim Maytom

Facebook Watch, the social network's streaming video platform, has yet to see massive adoption, despite a growing library of content, both original and otherwise. The firm was clearly hoping for its first hit with Sorry for Your Loss, a prestige drama series starring Elizabeth Olsen that had originally been developed for US cable network Showtime, but despite praise from critics, the show has failed to deliver.

Sorry for Your Loss debuted on 18 September, when Facebook released the first four episodes, with the rest of the 10-episode series arriving in two-episode blocks weekly, ending on 9 October (although all episodes are still available to watch on the platform). The first episode garnered impressive viewing figures, with 4m users watching, but that dropped by 95 per cent to just 200,000 for episode two.

The pattern repeated with each subsequent pair of episodes, with the first gaining better viewership (although never beyond 750,000) and the second dropping considerably, suggesting that people were perhaps unwilling to 'binge' on Watch, or were struggling to find next episodes.

The disappointing viewing figures come despite an extremely strong critical response to the show. It has 95 per cent on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, with an audience score of 85 per cent, and was praised by The Atlantic as "instantly so fully formed, so funny and candid and wrenching right from the start, that you almost question the emotional propriety of it all."

The show, which revolves around a young woman dealing with the loss of her husband, has been a passion project for Elizabeth Olsen, star of Avengers: Infinity War and Godzilla, who has spent three years developing the series. However, despite the presence of a Hollywood actress and a wealth of acclaim, it has failed to become the kind of breakout hit that other streaming services like Netflix, Hulu  and Amazon have produced.

"It is still early, but we are excited about the momentum around the series after its short four-week season run and are encouraged by the loyal fan baase and community engagement around the show - as well as within the official Facebook Group," said a Facebook spokesperson.