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The Office was the most-streamed TV show of last year, and it wasn’t even close

2020 saw more people than ever relying on streaming TV series to cope with the Covid blues, and there was clear favourite among all the choices.

According to the Nielsen ratings, one television show was streamed for 57,127 million minutes in the United States last year, easily eclipsing all its rivals. That show? The Office (smug look towards camera).

All those minutes translates to over 108,000 years – or put it in perspective, that’s how long ago it’s estimated that humans began gathering wild grains for the first time in history, forming the very origins of agriculture. There are probably more productive uses of your time, but then again the same thing could be said about the employees of Dunder Mifflin themselves.

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The top ten ‘acquired’ shows were all shown on Netflix, with the others being, in order: Grey’s Anatomy (39,405m), Criminal Minds (35,414m), NCIS (28,134m), Schitt’s Creek (23,785m), Supernatural (20,336m), Shameless (18,218m), New Girl (14,545m), The Blacklist (14,480m), and Vampire Diaries (14,091m).

Original series from streaming services also performed well, which is hardly surprising considering how long most of us have spent at home this year. The crown didn’t go to The Crown, instead it was Ozark that took first place, with 30,462 million views. The rest of the top ten are as follows: Lucifer (18,975m), The Crown (16,275m), Tiger King (15,611m), The Mandalorian (14,519m), The Umbrella Academy (13,470m), The Great British Baking Show (13,279m), Boss Baby: Back in Business (12,625m), Longmire (11,382m), and You (10,965m).

British readers might be surprised to see Bake Off either (a) in the list at all, or (b) listed as an original series when it’s produced in the UK for Channel 4 – but that’s thanks to a mutually beneficial co-production deal. Hopefully that still means that a Tiger King-style documentary on the private life of Paul Hollywood will be in the works. He’s even got a better stage name than Joe Exotic for starters.

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The only show in the above list that wasn’t a Netflix Original is The Mandalorian, (available on Disney Plus), which shows the kind of dominance the streaming giant exerts over the market. That could change over the coming months, with Disney Plus having commissioned dozens of new series based on Marvel and Star Wars properties, and with HBO Max having recently joined the fray. Netflix will of course continue relentlessly to produce content, with seven new original series already announced to be in production in the UK alone.

Aside from TV shows, the most-streamed films of last year were mainly animated films for children, as Frozen II took the top spot with 14,924 million minutes. The list as a whole included seven movies from Disney Plus (Frozen II, Moana, Onward, Hamilton, Aladdin, Toy Story 4, Zootopia) compared with just three for Netflix (The Secret Life of Pets 2, Dr Seuss’ The Grinch, Spenser Confidential) – so it looks like Mickey Mouse has at least got this corner of the streaming market sewn up.


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