The Second Coming of ER: Why the Medical Drama’s Arrival on Hulu Is the Surprise TV Success Story of 2018
Greene. Carter. Lewis. Weaver. Lockhart. Benton. These are the names of TV characters on viewers’ lips, characters on one of 2018’s hottest TV shows…a show that happened to premiere nearly 25 years ago. Now on Hulu, ER is having a second life.
The 15-season series made its streaming debut in January with much fanfare. Sure, ER has been off and on TV in syndication (most recently on Pop) since it ended its run on NBC in 2009, but the show was never accessible all at once on a (legal) streaming site. With all episodes now at their fingertips, viewers are eagerly eating up the series.
E! News has learned more than 35,000 viewers finished all of ER in just over two months. That’s 240 hours of TV consumed, with viewers watching an average of five episodes of ER per day. It’s not just a tour of the classic episodes either, 90 percent of viewers started from the very beginning. And ER isn’t just attracting old fans, the most common age of a viewer who streamed ER in its first week on Hulu is 27. ER premiered in 1994, which means viewers who were toddlers when it first premiered are learning their TV history with Hulu. The series was a ratings juggernaut in its heyday and that’s continuing on the streaming platform: More than two months since release, ER is still in the Top 4 overall shows on Hulu.
“That’s crazy,” ER star Sherry Stringfield told E! News in a phone interview. “I love it! That’s so cool. I’m glad people could enjoy it.”
Lisa Holme, the vice president of acquisitions at Hulu, told E! News the response to ER has been surprising.
“It has surpassed expectations for sure, both from a consumption perspective, but even more so from the zeitgeist that it has kind of picked up. We’ve launched other big, iconic shows on Hulu, from Seinfeld to Golden Girls to Will & Grace and others, and those have had their moments of excitement, but ER has been, I think, bigger and more sustained than we necessarily thought it was going to be…I think there was even more pent-up demand and nostalgia than we anticipated.”
But, Stringfield, who was an original cast member and played Dr. Susan Lewis in seasons one-three, eight-12 and again in the season 15 series finale, said she’s not surprised by the way viewers are devouring it.
“Not that other things I’ve done weren’t good, but, I mean, the writing, the acting, the production—Every single thing on that show was quality,” Stringfield said about ER. “I just think, honestly, the writing on that show was amazing.”
In many aspects, ER is timeless series, she agreed.