'Ozark,' 'The Office' Lead Nielsen's 2020 Streaming Rankings

Ozark-Netflix-The-Office-NBC-Peacock-and-Frozen-II-Disney-
Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection; Peacock; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

When Netflix lost streaming rights to The Office on Jan. 1, it lost a show that brought it more than 57 billion minutes of viewing in the United States in the past year — the equivalent of more than 1,000 years of linear time.

Yet the beloved comedy represents less than 15 percent of the time Netflix users spent on the streamer's top 20 titles in 2020, according to figures from Nielsen. The lists also show that just over a year after its launch, Disney+ has made some serious inroads in the streaming wars, both with its vast library and with a few original titles.

The ratings service released a list of the most watched streaming titles of the past year in terms of total minutes viewed in conjunction with its presentation at CES — where it also announced that it would begin measuring feature films released on VOD platforms.

The Office is a runaway No. 1 for the most watched streaming title of 2020. The 57.13 billion minutes users spent watching it is 45 percent more than the second-ranked show, Grey's Anatomy (39.41 billion minutes). The former NBC series moved to NBCUniversal's Peacock SVOD service on Jan. 1.

Netflix, with its deep catalog of library content, has all of the top 10 acquired series. They include several other long-running broadcast staples like NCIS, Criminal Minds and Supernatural, as well as recent Emmy darling Schitt's Creek and Showtime's Shameless. The 10 shows accounted for some 265.5 billion minutes of viewing time in 2020.

Netflix also had nine of the top 10 most watched original streaming series in the United States, per Nielsen. Ozark tops the list, logging 30.46 billion minutes of viewing last year. Its third season premiered in late March and received a sizable viewing bump over season two, Nielsen said.

The sole non-Netflix show among the top 10 originals is The Mandalorian, which collected 14.52 billion minutes of viewing time on Disney+. The Star Wars series' second season has been part of Nielsen's weekly streaming rankings for seven consecutive weeks, the longest such streak in the four and a half months since the company began releasing weekly top 10s. It's likely to grow to eight with the next rankings, which coincide with the season finale.

Disney+ also flexed its library muscle in the rankings of feature films (both original and library titles), where it holds seven of the top 10 spots for the year, including the top two: Frozen II (14.92 billion minutes) and Moana (10.51 billion). It additionally includes two Disney+ titles originally intended for a theatrical release in Pixar's Onward (8.37 billion minutes viewed) and the live-captured performance of Hamilton (6.13 billion).

Streamers have contended that Nielsen's methodology doesn't capture the full scope of viewing on devices other than TV sets. Nielsen also only measures U.S. audiences, not those in other countries.

Nielsen's top 10 streaming lists for original series, acquired series and feature films in 2020 are below.

Original Series

Title Outlet Minutes watched (billions)
Ozark Netflix 30.46
Lucifer Netflix 18.95
The Crown Netflix 16.28
Tiger King Netflix 15.61
The Mandalorian Disney+ 14.52
The Umbrella Academy Netflix 13.47
The Great British Baking Show Netflix 13.28
Boss Baby: Back in Business Netflix 12.63
Longmire Netflix 11.38
You Netflix 10.97

Acquired Series

Title Outlet Minutes watched (billions)
The Office Netflix 57.13
Grey's Anatomy Netflix 39.41
Criminal Minds Netflix 35.41
NCIS Netflix 28.13
Schitt's Creek Netflix 23.79
Supernatural Netflix 20.34
Shameless Netflix 18.22
New Girl Netflix 14.55
The Blacklist Netflix 14.48
The Vampire Diaries Netflix 14.09

Feature Films

Title Outlet Minutes watched (billions)
Frozen II Disney+ 14.92
Moana Disney+ 10.51
The Secret Life of Pets 2 Netflix 9.12
Onward Disney+ 8.37
Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Netflix 6.18
Hamilton Disney+ 6.13
Spenser Confidential Netflix 5.37
Aladdin (2019) Disney+ 5.17
Toy Story 4 Disney+ 4.42
Zootopia Disney+ 4.4