The figures show that people are going for familiar, escapist entertainment rather than challenging new shows, which isn’t shocking considering 2020’s constant deluge of bad news. However, there are also lots of episodes for those older network series, 830 in total, which would boost hourly viewing totals as well. If you look at it that way, Tiger King’s performance of 260 million viewing hours was very impressive, considering only eight episodes were produced.
The most popular movies, meanwhile, were viewed largely from Disney+, including Frozen II, Moana, Onward, and Hamilton. Universal’s Secret Life of Pets 2 and Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, streaming on Netflix, were in the number three and five spots, respectively. Most of those shows are aimed at children, so parents were likely trying to keep their kids (and themselves) entertained during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Nielsen started releasing weekly streaming service viewer numbers for the first time in 2020. These figures only apply to shows watched in the US on TVs and not phones, tablets or computers, but Nielsen plans to adapt its system to those devices. For this year’s rankings, it reported viewers for Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and Amazon but not Apple TV+, HBO Max or Peacock. Since The Office is now on NBC’s Peacock and not Netflix, that show’s immense popularity could mean a big hit to Netflix’s viewing figures in 2021.