Netflix's Most Streamed Shows Last Year Include 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'The Office' and 'Friends'

One reason why Netflix's original series might be struggling to last more a few seasons is that subscribers are far more interested in library content than checking out new episodes of shows like Orange is the New Black, Fuller House and The Ranch. The most-streamed shows from 2018 include library titles, including Friends and The Office.

While Netflix does not release viewership data itself, Nielsen calculated the number of minutes people with Nielsen-connected devices spend watching shows on the streaming service. The statistics show Netflix users spent 52.08 billion minutes watching The Office, according to Nielsen statistics shared with AdWeek Thursday.

Friends came in second with 32.6 million minutes, while Grey's Anatomy followed in third with 30.29 billion. NCIS was in fourth, with 21.18 billion minutes and Criminal Minds came in fifth with 19.69 billion.

You have to go down to the seventh spot to find Orange Is The New Black, the most-watched Netflix original on the list. Netflix users spent 18.75 billion minutes watching the show, which will be ending with its seventh season later this year.

The only other Netflix originals in the Top 20 are Ozark (13.97 billion minutes); 13 Reasons Why (12.8 billion); Boss Baby: Back in Business (12.05 billion); The Ranch (9.85 billion); and Fuller House (9.4 billion).

Nielsen also found that ever age group was more likely to watch library programs than Netflix originals. Amazingly, younger demographics were more likely to watch library content than older viewers. The 65+ and 50-64 demographics both spend about 33 percent of their minutes watching original shows. People in the 18-34 range spend about 25 percent of their minutes with original shows, while the 35-49 group spends 31 percent of their minutes on originals.

Most library shows in the Top 20 have more than 100 episodes, so with more content, they have a leg up over Netflix shows. Brian Fuhrer, Nielsen SVP of Product Leadership, told AdWeek Netflix's originals with fewer episodes do better because they are highly promoted. That would explain why Ozark is in the Top 10, despite only having 15 episodes.

However, viewers see little re-watchability for Netflix originals. "They are viewed, and then people move on," Fuhrer said.

Nielsen's new study also found the number of households with streaming platforms continues to rise every year. Sixty-three percent of Nielsen households have Netflix, while 44 percent have Amazon. Sixty-nine perecnt of households have any SVOD platform.


This study shows Netflix might have reasons to be concerned in the future, now that studios are launching more specific streaming platforms and are hoping to bring their owned content under one roof. For example, The Office's lifespan on Netflix is expected to be in danger, since Comcast's NBCUniversal is planning to launch its own platform. Disney content could also disappear soon, with Disney+ launching in November.

Photo credit: NBC