Report: Women Prefer to Stream Library Content Over New Shows; What Are Most Popular Titles Amongst Women?
The numbers are in, and there can be no doubt that 2022 was an incredible year for original shows. Streaming services across the industry released 60% more original titles last year than in 2021, and as often happens, Netflix led the way.
But original shows took a back seat to library content last year in terms of minutes streamed, especially among viewers identifying as women. Library content includes any show a streamer licenses after it has initially aired somewhere else, and according to Nielsen, 18 of the top-25 streaming titles among women aged 18 to 34 fell into this category.
Engagement with acquired content has continued into 2023, as the weekly minutes viewed of titles like “NCIS,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Law & Order” on streaming platforms often outpace original streaming shows, according to Nielsen’s weekly top 10 listings.
In total, women streamed just under 77 billion minutes of library shows in 2022. Men were also watching licensed shows at a high rate last year; 20 of the 25 most-streamed programs by men over the course of 2022 were library content, though cumulatively the time spent streaming these series was just over 51 billion minutes.
Where to Stream All 25 of Nielsen’s Most-Watched Shows by Women in 2022
|Title||Streaming Service||No. of Telecasts||Minutes (millions)|
|Love is Blind||Netflix||40||4,264|
|Law and Order: SVU||Peacock||473||3,612|
|Big Bang Theory||HBO Max||279||2,669|
|How I Met Your Mother||Hulu||208||2,649|
Nielsen’s television historian Brian Fuhrer attributes the popularity of older licensed content to the more surreal and ridiculous storytelling those titles offer, as opposed to grittier and more realistic premises of today’s TV shows.
“Some of these powerful programs can be emotionally draining to stream,” Fuhrer said. “It can be hard to binge content like that, especially when the world is already so complex today.”
Nielsen’s data also shows how streaming has become a first-stop destination for TV watchers, especially among younger viewers. A full 80% of adults 18-34 start their search for video content on streaming platforms, compared with just 68% of total adults 18 and older. Although older users have been more hesitant to embrace streaming as compared to linear TV, all age groups now start looking for something to watch on a streaming service at a rate of over 50%.
Original programming is a big draw that every streaming service needs to help it stand out from the competition. But Nielsen’s data backs up the assertions of TV executives like FX's John Landegraf in a big way. Large libraries of licensed, lean-back content that viewers find comforting and familiar are a streamer’s secret weapon, and an excellent way to retain users once they’re signed up.