“Stranger Things” took the top spot on Nielsen’s 2022 streaming chart as the most-streamed TV show in the U.S. last year. The sci-fi hit series, which released its fourth season in 2022, recorded a staggering 52 billion minutes streamed, the highest total since the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in streaming in 2020. This success highlights the dominance of original content on streaming platforms, as there are only 34 episodes of “Stranger Things” compared to the 192 episodes of “The Office,” which was the most-streamed show of 2020. According to Netflix, “Stranger Things 4” was also the No. 1 most-watched English TV series in its first four weeks of release, garnering 1.35 billion hours worldwide. However, older TV shows also remained popular on streaming platforms, with “NCIS” and “Criminal Minds” being among the most-watched programs. Americans streamed a total of 19.4 million years of content in 2022, a 27% increase from the previous year.
In addition to the success of “Stranger Things,” other original content also performed well on streaming platforms. “Wednesday,” a Netflix original, came in at the No. 3 spot on Nielsen’s original series list, with 1.24 billion hours watched in its first four weeks of release. The Netflix original “Ozark” also made it into the top 5, with its fourth and final season generating a significant amount of streaming minutes.
The procedural drama “NCIS” was the second most-watched show in 2022, with 38.1 billion minutes viewed. “Ozark” was the second-most-watched original series, with 31.3 billion minutes viewed, while Amazon’s “The Boys” came in 11th place. Disney’s “Encanto” was the most-watched movie in 2022 with 27.4 billion minutes viewed.
Another standout performer on streaming platforms was the children’s show “CoComelon,” which came in at the No. 3 spot overall with 37.8 billion minutes viewed on Netflix. This demonstrates the continued popularity of kids’ content on streaming platforms, as well as the success of independent production companies like Moonbug Entertainment.
The top 10 most-streamed programs were rounded out by a mix of original content and reruns of popular shows. Disney+’s animated film “Encanto” was among the top performers, with 27.4 billion minutes viewed and double the watch time of the next most-viewed movie. Reruns of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Gilmore Girls” on Netflix, and “Bluey” on Disney+ also made it into the top 10.
It is worth noting that Nielsen’s data is based on an audio-based content recognition methodology that tracks a subset of TV households and does not include mobile devices and PCs. However, the data provides an estimate of total U.S. streaming viewing for platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more.
The success of “Stranger Things” and other original content on streaming platforms highlights the continued shift towards streaming as the primary way audiences consume television and film. As streaming platforms continue to produce and acquire more original content, it will be interesting to see which shows and movies take the top spots in future streaming charts.