2020 was a strong year for streaming across the board, but newly released Nielsen data reveals some of the biggest winners. At the top of the list was “The Office,” which racked up the most viewership of any TV show, with 57.1 billion minutes streamed for its 192 episodes on Netflix.
Along with “The Office,” 6 of the top 7 streamed shows in 2020 were licensed content (and all were on Netflix). The only original show in the top 7 was “Ozark” with 30.4 billion minutes streamed. Ahead of it were “Grey’s Anatomy” (39.4 billion minutes) and “Criminal Minds” (35.4 billion minutes) and just behind it were “NCIS” (28.1 billion minutes), “Schitt’s Creek” (23.8 billion minutes) and “Supernatural” (20.3 billion minutes).
Nielsen said that while it was “original content that sparked cultural phenomenons and shepherded in new subscribers to both established and nascent platforms” in 2020, “library content is what viewers find comfort in, watch casually and often return to. Simply put they’re known quantities. They’re the shows that viewers will turn to, as they already have established connections with audiences and provide easy viewing, especially when the hunt for new content to binge may be daunting.”
In fact, Netflix dominated the list of both top 10 original and top 10 licensed shows in 2020, with the only non-Netflix show to crack the lists being “The Mandalorian” on Disney+, which was the fifth most watched original with 14.5 billion minutes streamed.
The popularity of “The Office” means streaming dynamics are bound to change in 2021 as the series has moved over to Peacock where it is being used to drive both the free and subscription tiers. Seasons 1-2 are available for free with all subsequent seasons on the Premium subscription tier.
Kids movies dominated with eight of the top 10 most streamed movies. Number one was “Frozen II” with 14.9 billion minutes streamed, followed by “Moana” with 10.5 billion minutes. Both were on Disney+. “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” on Netflix, was in the third position with 9.1 billion minutes streamed. No doubt the pandemic, which restricted theatrical attendance in 2020, boosted streaming movie viewing for kids and families. Netflix is poised to be a bigger player in steaming movies in 2021, announcing yesterday a slate of 70 movies to be released this year.
(Note, the Nielsen data comes from its SVOD Content Ratings, which measures Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Hulu)