U.S. viewers spent nearly 30.5 billion minutes streaming Netflix’s original drama Ozark in 2020. This made it the most-viewed original series from a streaming service last year. However, according to new data from Nielsen, library titles like The Office and Grey’s Anatomy still offer by far the largest streaming audience.
The data Nielsen shared today at CES 2021 measures the popularity of shows streamed on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Disney + from December 30, 2019 to December 27, 2020. It highlights the enduring endurance of library titles, which can make up huge, reliable chunks of streaming viewership.
Still an avid streaming fan, the office shows why NBCUniversal pulled out all the stops when the show migrated from Netflix to its own streaming service Peacock on Jan. 1. The sitcom was by far the most streamed show on television, according to Nielsen, U.S. viewers watched more than 57.1 billion minutes of the 192 episode season in 2020.
Grey’s Anatomy, which streamed 366 episodes on Netflix, was viewed for more than 39.4 billion minutes last year. The 277 episodes of Criminal Minds were watched for more than 35.4 billion minutes while NCIS was watched for 28.1 billion minutes.
All four of these shows have been among the most streamed shows for several years, but each year the billions of minutes watched for each show are highlighted to highlight how many more people are watching. According to Nielsen, streaming now accounts for almost a quarter of total usage by OTT-enabled households in the US, down from around a fifth a year ago.
While library shows are dominated in terms of total minutes watched, the data shows how high-profile originals can pay off with a relatively short number of episodes and a large audience. Ozark, which has only 30 episodes in its three seasons to date, had an average viewership of more than 1 billion minutes per episode, far more than the average minutes per episode viewed for library titles with hundreds of episodes each.
Netflix’s other originals also had big viewers, and Netflix Originals made up nine of the top ten original shows to stream in 2020. U.S. viewers spent nearly 19 billion minutes watching Fantasy Lucifer, the fifth season of which was partially released in August 2020. The Crown also brought in a large number of viewers, with U.S. viewers watching more than 16 billion minutes of the show ( Season 4 debuted last November).
Tiger King, the eight-part documentary that became a phenomenon when the Covid-19 lockdown began, was watched for more than 15.6 billion minutes over the course of the year. Other top streaming titles were The Umbrella Academy (13.5 billion minutes), Great British Baking Show (13.3 billion minutes) and Boss Baby: Back in Business (12.6 billion minutes).
Disney +, the new streamer on the block who has quickly become a giant, broke through with The Mandalorian, whose second season was canceled in late 2020. That series was viewed more than 14.5 billion minutes in 2020, Nielsen said.
While Disney +’s The Mandalorian was the only non-Netflix original series to get into the top 10, the service attracted far more viewers with its series of films, which Nielsen first released in its dates. Disney’s animated film Frozen II, which was released on Disney + three months before the pandemic began, was viewed by US viewers for nearly 15 billion minutes, making it the No. 1 streaming film for the year. The Disney animated film Moana was ranked first the second place. The US viewers watched more than 10.5 billion minutes, said Nielsen.