Nielsen: Legacy shows were more popular than original content on streaming services in 2020

Editor’s take: In times of turmoil, it’s not uncommon for people to resort to things that make them feel good. Comfort food is a good example, and for many, fond memories of the past evoke the same sort of feeling. It’s no surprise, then, that people turned to classic TV shows during the pandemic as a form of escapist entertainment.

The continued rise of streaming platforms was one of the few bright spots of 2020. Fortunately, much of the infrastructure and content libraries were already in place to support the unexpected spike in at-home viewing brought about by the pandemic.

Original programming like Stranger Things, Cobra Kai and Ozark often gets all the credit when it comes to generating buzz and luring in subscribers but according to Nielsen, legacy content was the biggest draw in 2020.

The Office, Grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds each accounted for more minutes streamed than any other TV show or movie on streaming, new or old.

Viewers watched more than 57 million minutes of The Office last year, a show with 192 episodes. Grey’s Anatomy, with 366 episodes, ranked second with nearly 39.4 million minutes streamed. Criminal Minds racked up 35.4 million minutes streamed across its 277 episodes.

The most-watched original TV series, Netflix’s Ozark, tallied 30.5 million minutes streamed across 30 episodes. The top movies of 2020 included Frozen II at nearly 15 million minutes streamed followed by Moana at 10.5 million minutes and Secret Life of Pets 2 at 9.1 million minutes.

Image credit Tero Vesalainen