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Study: Disney+ Dominating Most-Streamed Movies, Netflix Rules in TV Category

Steve Anderson

15 million years of content. That’s how much content American streamers took in just in 2021 alone, according to a recent Nielsen report. Just the week of Christmas alone, viewers consumed 183 billion minutes. While the aggregate total is a great way to tell just how far streaming video has come over the years, the Nielsen study also broke down just what it was people were watching during that incredible span of time.

So what were the big winners in 2021? The Nielsen study found that the big winners were kids’ fare, dramas, mysteries and reality television. The drama series “Lucifer” landed the most-streamed original title of 2021, assisted by having 93 episodes available to stream on Netflix.

15 Most Popular Streaming Programs (Originals)

  • Lucifer

    25 January 2016

    Bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell, Lucifer Morningstar abandoned his throne and retired to Los Angeles, where he has teamed up with LAPD detective Chloe Decker to take down criminals. But the longer he’s away from the underworld, the greater the threat that the worst of humanity could escape.

  • Squid Game

    17 September 2021

    Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games—with high stakes. But, a tempting prize awaits the victor.

  • The Great British Bake Off

    17 August 2010

    This British television baking competition selects from amongst its competitors the best amateur baker. The series is credited with reinvigorating interest in baking throughout the UK, and many of its participants, including winners, have gone on to start a career based on baking.

    This title appears as “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix.

  • Virgin River

    6 December 2019

    After seeing an ad for a midwife, a recently divorced big-city nurse moves to the redwood forests of California, where she meets an intriguing man.

  • Bridgerton

    25 December 2020

    Wealth, lust, and betrayal set in the backdrop of Regency era England, seen through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton family.

  • You

    9 September 2018

    A dangerously charming, intensely obsessive young man goes to extreme measures to insert himself into the lives of those he is transfixed by.

  • Cobra Kai

    2 May 2018

    This Karate Kid sequel series picks up 30 years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament and finds Johnny Lawrence on the hunt for redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo. This reignites his old rivalry with the successful Daniel LaRusso, who has been working to maintain the balance in his life without mentor Mr. Miyagi.

  • The Crown

    4 November 2016

    The gripping, decades-spanning inside story of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Prime Ministers who shaped Britain’s post-war destiny.

    The Crown tells the inside story of two of the most famous addresses in the world – Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street – and the intrigues, love lives and machinations behind the great events that shaped the second half of the 20th century. Two houses, two courts, one Crown.

  • Longmire

    3 June 2012

    A Wyoming sheriff rebuilds his life and career following the death of his wife. Based on the “Walt Longmire” series of mystery novels written by best-selling author Craig Johnson.

  • The Handmaid's Tale

    26 April 2017

    Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship. A TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel.

    This harrowing series features dynamite performances from Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Joseph Fiennes, and Ann Dowd. The show’s first season won 8 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series.

  • Outer Banks

    15 April 2020

    A tight-knit group of teens unearths a long-buried secret, setting off a chain of illicit events that takes them on an adventure they’ll never forget.

  • Ted Lasso

    14 August 2020

    Ted Lasso, an American football coach, moves to England when he’s hired to manage a soccer team—despite having no experience. With cynical players and a doubtful town, will he get them to see the Ted Lasso Way?

  • Maid

    1 October 2021

    After fleeing an abusive relationship, a young mother finds a job cleaning houses and fights to provide a better future for her child.

  • WandaVision

    15 January 2021

    Wanda Maximoff and Vision—two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives—begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

  • The Witcher

    20 December 2019

    Geralt of Rivia, a mutated monster-hunter for hire, journeys toward his destiny in a turbulent world where people often prove more wicked than beasts.

Meanwhile, a range of programs acquired from other networks also represented a substantial opportunity for streaming platforms to provide content. Programs acquired from other networks gave platforms a real boost.

15 Most Popular Streaming Programs (Acquired)

  • Criminal Minds

    22 September 2005

    An elite team of FBI profilers analyze the country’s most twisted criminal minds, anticipating their next moves before they strike again. The Behavioral Analysis Unit’s most experienced agent is David Rossi, a founding member of the BAU who returns to help the team solve new cases.

  • CoComelon

    31 May 2020

    JJ and his pals sing and dance their way through fun adventures as they learn about letters, numbers, and more.

  • Grey's Anatomy

    27 March 2005

    Follows the personal and professional lives of a group of doctors at Seattle’s Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.

  • NCIS

    23 September 2003

    From murder and espionage to terrorism and stolen submarines, a team of special agents investigates any crime that has a shred of evidence connected to Navy and Marine Corps personnel, regardless of rank or position.

  • Heartland

    14 October 2007

    Life is hard on the Flemings’ ranch in the Alberta foothills where abused or neglected horses find refuge with a kind, hard-working family. Debts abound and the bank is about to foreclose. Can they keep the ranch running?

  • Manifest

    24 September 2018

    After landing from a turbulent but routine flight, the crew and passengers of Montego Air Flight 828 discover five years have passed in what seemed like a few hours. As their new realities become clear, a deeper mystery unfolds and some of the returned passengers soon realize they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible.

  • Supernatural

    13 September 2005

    When they were boys, Sam and Dean Winchester lost their mother to a mysterious and demonic supernatural force. Subsequently, their father raised them to be soldiers. He taught them about the paranormal evil that lives in the dark corners and on the back roads of America … and he taught them how to kill it. Now, the Winchester brothers crisscross the country in their ‘67 Chevy Impala, battling every kind of supernatural threat they encounter along the way.

  • Schitt's Creek

    13 January 2015

    Formerly filthy rich video store magnate Johnny Rose, his soap star wife Moira, and their two kids, über-hipster son David and socialite daughter Alexis, suddenly find themselves broke and forced to live in Schitt’s Creek, a small depressing town they once bought as a joke.

  • Gilmore Girls

    5 October 2000

    Set in the charming town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, the series follows the captivating lives of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, a mother/daughter pair who have a relationship most people only dream of.

  • New Girl

    20 September 2011

    Jessica Day is an offbeat and adorable girl in her late 20s who, after a bad breakup, moves in with three single guys. Goofy, positive, vulnerable and honest to a fault, Jess has faith in people, even when she shouldn’t. Although she’s dorky and awkward, she’s comfortable in her own skin. More prone to friendships with women, she’s not used to hanging with the boys—especially at home.

  • Shameless

    9 January 2011

    Chicagoan Frank Gallagher is the proud single dad of six smart, industrious, independent kids, who without him would be… perhaps better off. When Frank’s not at the bar spending what little money they have, he’s passed out on the floor. But the kids have found ways to grow up in spite of him. They may not be like any family you know, but they make no apologies for being exactly who they are.

  • The Blacklist

    23 September 2013

    Raymond “Red” Reddington, one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, surrenders in person at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He claims that he and the FBI have the same interests: bringing down dangerous criminals and terrorists. In the last two decades, he’s made a list of criminals and terrorists that matter the most but the FBI cannot find because it does not know they exist. Reddington calls this “The Blacklist”. Reddington will co-operate, but insists that he will speak only to Elizabeth Keen, a rookie FBI profiler.

  • Bones

    13 September 2005

    Dr. Temperance Brennan and her colleagues at the Jeffersonian’s Medico-Legal Lab assist Special Agent Seeley Booth with murder investigations when the remains are so badly decomposed, burned or destroyed that the standard identification methods are useless.

  • Seinfeld

    5 July 1989

    A stand-up comedian and his three offbeat friends weather the pitfalls and payoffs of life in New York City in the ’90s. It’s a show about nothing.

  • The Walking Dead

    31 October 2010

    Sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes awakens from a coma to find a post-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating zombies. He sets out to find his family and encounters many other survivors along the way.

Finally, there was the matter of movies on streaming. Here, kids’ fare clearly won out, as four of the top five and seven of the top 10 were animated. Disney+ proved a big winner on movies, as its exclusive titles dominated this list.

Top 15 Streaming Movies

  • Luca

    17 June 2021

    Luca and his best friend Alberto experience an unforgettable summer on the Italian Riviera. But all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: they are sea monsters from another world just below the water’s surface.

  • Moana

    23 November 2016

    In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right.

  • Raya and the Last Dragon

    3 March 2021

    Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people.

  • Frozen II

    20 November 2019

    Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf head far into the forest to learn the truth about an ancient mystery of their kingdom.

  • Red Notice

    4 November 2021

    An Interpol-issued Red Notice is a global alert to hunt and capture the world’s most wanted. But when a daring heist brings together the FBI’s top profiler and two rival criminals, there’s no telling what will happen.

  • Frozen

    20 November 2013

    Young princess Anna of Arendelle dreams about finding true love at her sister Elsa’s coronation. Fate takes her on a dangerous journey in an attempt to end the eternal winter that has fallen over the kingdom. She’s accompanied by ice delivery man Kristoff, his reindeer Sven, and snowman Olaf. On an adventure where she will find out what friendship, courage, family, and true love really means.

  • Soul

    25 December 2020

    Joe Gardner is a middle school teacher with a love for jazz music. After a successful audition at the Half Note Club, he suddenly gets into an accident that separates his soul from his body and is transported to the You Seminar, a center in which souls develop and gain passions before being transported to a newborn child. Joe must enlist help from the other souls-in-training, like 22, a soul who has spent eons in the You Seminar, in order to get back to Earth.

  • Cruella

    26 May 2021

    In 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, a young grifter named Estella is determined to make a name for herself with her designs. She befriends a pair of young thieves who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they are able to build a life for themselves on the London streets. One day, Estella’s flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman, a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute. But their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable and revenge-bent Cruella.

  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines

    22 April 2021

    A quirky, dysfunctional family’s road trip is upended when they find themselves in the middle of the robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope.

  • Jungle Cruise

    28 July 2021

    Dr. Lily Houghton enlists the aid of wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff to take her down the Amazon in his dilapidated boat. Together, they search for an ancient tree that holds the power to heal – a discovery that will change the future of medicine.

  • Black Widow

    7 July 2021

    Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow, confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger.

  • The Tomorrow War

    2 July 2021

    The world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future, mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight. Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester. Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist and his estranged father in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet.

  • Coco

    27 October 2017

    Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector, and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

  • We Can Be Heroes

    25 December 2020

    When alien invaders capture Earth’s superheroes, their kids must learn to work together to save their parents - and the planet.

  • Avengers: Endgame

    24 April 2019

    After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is in ruins due to the efforts of the Mad Titan, Thanos. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers must assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe once and for all, no matter what consequences may be in store.

So what can we take away from all this? First, Nielsen’s figures are a bit of a departure from the recent study issued from Reelgood. While both Nielsen and Reelgood cited gains in mystery titles, Reelgood noted losses in audience share for dramas and animation. Second, Nielsen and Reelgood mesh on another point: catalog gains. More titles were added in documentary, animation, family and biography, all of which the Nielsen study calls particular attention to as being among the most-watched.

The overlaps seen between the Nielsen and the Reelgood studies suggest that streaming platforms are doing a solid job of knowing what their customers want to watch and presenting it accordingly. It’s not a perfect job, certainly, but the overlap proves it’s quite close. The job will likely never be perfect, but close counts, especially considering the churn percentages seen.

If you want to find something good to watch on streaming, it’s a safe bet you’ll find it. The numbers bear that much out. The numbers also make it clear that there are plenty of people doing that streaming, and will likely continue to do so for some time to come.

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