Dear 100 Hour Board,
How does current viewership of Shakespeare's plays compare to viewership of some of today's most popular media choices (from, say, Netflix and Hollywood, etc)?
In other words, how does the number of people who watch Shakespearean plays or movies in a single given year compare to viewership of contemporary media for that same year?
Thanks for your help!
-I teach English
Dear I teach English,
I'm having a hard time finding the numbers on this. I heard a statistic that at any given moment, a Shakespeare play is being performed somewhere in the world, but now I can't find any data to defend that assertion. Such a claim is credible to me, as an English speaker who took drama classes in high school. I believe it's extremely likely that a Shakespeare play is performed every day in the high schools of the United States alone.
Add the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, as well as similar events that no doubt happen across the English speaking world, and the Globe Theater in London performing Shakespeare apparently every season, a lot of Shakespeare is being performed all over the place in English. I feel comfortable saying that at least an average of 1,000 English speakers watch a Shakespeare play every day. (THAT NUMBER WAS PULLED OUT OF THIN AIR AND IS A SUPER ROUGH ESTIMATE SO HERE'S A MILLION ASTERISKS************)
The average Netflix user watches 90 minutes of streaming a day. As of Q1, they reported ~98,750,000 subscribers. So roughly 148,125,000 hours of Netflix are watched every day. Even if my imaginary 1,000 people are watching a full, five-hour play, they come nowhere close.
There are couple things we're not considering here, though.
1. People don't exclusively watch Netflix. It's just the data I could find.
2. It's unfair to compare Shakespeare against the entire corpus of television, and of course he will be found wanting.
What I do think a good head-to-head comparison would be is comparing Shakespeare to other individual artists. Michael Bay, J. J. Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Brandon Sanderson, etc. In that lineup, I believe he compares favorably with almost anyone.
Shakespeare is popular, and rightfully so. I think he will remain popular for the lifetime of the English language.