‘The Office’ Was by Far the Most-Streamed TV Show in 2020, Nielsen Says

Todd Spangler
·4-min read

Amid the acceleration of the streaming wars in 2020, one thing was clear: “The Office” stood head and shoulders above every other TV show available on major subscription-video platforms.

Last year, Americans cumulatively streamed more than 57 billion minutes of “The Office,” the comedy favorite that originally aired for nine seasons on NBC, on Netflix, according to figures released Tuesday by Nielsen. But Netflix won’t benefit from the Dunder Mifflin gang catalog this year: As of Jan. 1, all seasons of “The Office” moved exclusively to NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service.

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The next-biggest show was past seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy,” also on Netflix, with an estimated 39.4 billion minutes streamed. Indeed, Netflix had a lock on the top 10 most-viewed licensed TV shows, per Nielsen, with past seasons of “Criminal Minds,” “NCIS,” “Schitt’s Creek,” “Supernatural,” “Shameless,” “New Girl,” “The Blacklist” and “Vampire Diaries.”

Note that the rankings are based on the Nielsen SVOD Content Ratings service, which measures just four services: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus.

Among original series on the SVOD services Nielsen tracks, Netflix grabbed nine of the 10 spots, with “Ozark” taking first place. That was followed by “Lucifer,” “The Crown” and “Tiger King.” The only non-Netflix show was Disney Plus’ “The Mandalorian,” with the hit Star Wars spinoff coming in at No. 5.

While “The Office” and other older TV shows registered the biggest viewing numbers for 2020, those titles typically comprise more episodes than newer originals, so it’s not surprising they generate more streaming volume overall. For example, U.S. viewers watched 30.5 billion minutes of “Ozark” during 2020, which was across a total of 28 episodes. The more than 57 billion minutes of “The Office” spanned 192 episodes.

Meanwhile, on the movie front, Disney Plus’ early release of “Frozen II” topped the most-streamed list, followed by “Moana” on Disney Plus and “Secret Life of Pets 2” on Netflix.

A caveat about these numbers: The Nielsen estimates are estimated based on viewing on connected TVs, excluding mobile devices and computers. The streaming providers don’t typically release viewing numbers. When Netflix touts viewing, for example, it uses a proprietary metric that counts how many subscribers watched a minimum of two minutes of a title.

Also Tuesday, Nielsen announced the launch of Theatrical Video On-Demand (TVOD), a measurement service tracking movie releases that are directly available to consumers to rent or purchase on-demand through streaming and pay-TV platforms. Nielsen didn’t specify which platforms would be included in the TVOD measurement service or when exactly it would launch.

Top Streaming Content of 2020: Acquired Series

Rank

Program Name

SVOD Provider(s)

# of Episodes

Minutes Streamed (Nearest Million)

1

The Office

Netflix

192

57,127

2

Grey’s Anatomy

Netflix

366

39,405

3

Criminal Minds

Netflix

277

35,414

4

NCIS

Netflix

353

28,134

5

Schitt’s Creek

Netflix

70

23,785

6

Supernatural

Netflix

318

20,336

7

Shameless

Netflix

122

18,218

8

New Girl

Netflix

146

14,545

9

The Blacklist

Netflix

152

14,480

10

Vampire Diaries

Netflix

171

14,091

Top Streaming Content of 2020: Original Series

Rank

Program Name

SVOD Provider(s)

# of Episodes

Minutes Streamed (Nearest Million)

1

Ozark

Netflix

30

30,462

2

Lucifer

Netflix

75

18,975

3

The Crown

Netflix

40

16,275

4

Tiger King

Netflix

8

15,611

5

The Mandalorian

Disney Plus

16

14,519

6

The Umbrella Academy

Netflix

20

13,470

7

The Great British Baking Show

Netflix

65

13,279

8

Boss Baby: Back in Business

Netflix

49

12,625

9

Longmire

Netflix

63

11,382

10

You

Netflix

20

10,965

Top Streaming Content of 2020: Movies

Rank

Program Name

SVOD Provider(s)

Minutes Streamed (Nearest Million)

1

Frozen II

Disney Plus

14,924

2

Moana

Disney Plus

10,507

3

The Secret life of Pets 2

Netflix

9,123

4

Onward

Disney Plus

8,367

5

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch

Netflix

6,180

6

Hamilton

Disney Plus

6,132

7

Spenser Confidential

Netflix

5,374

8

Aladdin (2019)

Disney Plus

5,172

9

Toy Story 4

Disney Plus

4,416

10

Zootopia

Disney Plus

4,400

Source: Nielsen SVOD Content Ratings (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and Hulu), Nielsen National TV Panel, U.S. Viewing through Television. U.S. Persons 2+, Total Minutes Viewed During 2020 (Dec. 30, 2019 through Dec. 27, 2020)

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