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'Suits' just set a streaming record years after it ended. Here's what's going on

(From left) executive producer Aaron Korsh sits with actors Meghan Markle, Patrick J. Adams, Gabriel Macht, Gina Torres, Rick Hoffman and Sarah Rafferty of the TV show <em>Suits</em> in 2014.
Frederick M. Brown
/
Getty Images
(From left) executive producer Aaron Korsh sits with actors Meghan Markle, Patrick J. Adams, Gabriel Macht, Gina Torres, Rick Hoffman and Sarah Rafferty of the TV show Suits in 2014.

A TV show that ended years ago is dominating the streaming world. Is it the writer's strike, the Meghan Markle effect, or something else?

What is it? Suits is a legal drama that ran for nine seasons on the USA Network, and ended in 2019.

  • The show is a fast-paced portrayal of hotshot, wheeling and dealing lawyers in New York City. And, yes, people in suits.
  • Meghan Markle — aka Meghan, Duchess of Sussex — played a paralegal on the show. She has carved out her own level of global stardom since then, of course, which could account for at least some viewers now tuning in.
  • What's the big deal? It appears this summer primed the series for a streaming renaissance. And that might give some insight into the state of streaming and TV as a whole.

  • Suits set a new Nielsen viewing record for an acquired title in July, clocking up almost 18 billion minutes viewed in a month, across Netflix and Peacock.
  • Nielsen reported that while there were a number of original titles released to streaming services in July, "acquired content was the stand-out for the month" for viewing figures.
  • If you've used Netflix recently, you might have noticed the featured screen space Suits has been given.

  • Listen to the full Suits conversation with Eric Deggans on All Things Considered by tapping the play button at the top.


    What are people saying? NPR TV critic and media wiz Eric Deggans shared his insight on All Things Considered as to how Suits became a late blooming success, and what it might mean for other overlooked streaming titles.

    On what this popularity might mean for Suits, and the TV industry as a whole:

    Nielsen says the popularity of Suits and the kids show Bluey helped boost viewers' time watching streaming. And at the same time, viewing of linear TV – programs on traditional broadcast, cable and satellite channels – dipped below 50% of all TV viewing for the first time. Nielsen says this hike comes from "library content" – shows like Suits that aired somewhere else, but are now in a streaming service's stored library. Some TV executives have said streaming is the future of TV, and figures like this show they just might be right.

    On why viewers are watching Suits all these years later. Is it Meghan Markle?

    I'm sure Meghan has her fans. But there's a few other things here. First, even though there are usually fewer new broadcast TV shows on in July, the strikes by writers and performers in Hollywood over this summer have halted production and that's left people looking more to streaming for fresh material.

    I also think, at a time when TV platforms are canceling shows quicker than ever, there is some comfort in starting a series, knowing that there are nine seasons to enjoy if you like it.

    Netflix featured Suits inside its app, guaranteeing that subscribers would be encouraged to view it, which always helps. And ... it's a great series, about this talented but self-centered lawyer — named Harvey Specter, played by Gabriel Macht — who hires a smart young guy to be his associate, even though he doesn't have a law degree. It's part Cinderella story, part legal procedural and part workplace drama with a killer cast.

    Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) walk the picket line outside of Disney Studio, in Burbank, California, on August 16.
    Valerie Macon / AFP via Getty Images
    /
    AFP via Getty Images
    Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) walk the picket line outside of Disney Studio, in Burbank, California, on August 16.

    So, what now?

  • All roads seem to lead back to the writer's strike in Hollywood. In an op-ed for The L.A. Times, Ethan Drogin, a former writer for the show,  shared how much he had earned in residual checks for writing one episode for the series. His total among the streaming surge? $259.71.
  • And with no end in sight, viewers might continue to dive deeper into catalogs, while writers and performers fight to address the larger issue at hand.
  • Learn more:

  • These are the movies and TV shows to watch this summer
  • TV reboots have to answer one question: Why now? Just look at 'Justified'
  • Dun dun — done! Why watching 'Law & Order' clips on YouTube is oddly satisfying
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Manuela López Restrepo
    Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.