Streaming Viewing up 27% in 2022: Nielsen

Stranger Things
(Image credit: Netflix)

NEW YORK—Amid all the doom and gloom in the streaming industry regarding slumping stock prices and hefty losses, streaming audiences continue to grow at a significant pace, with Americans streaming more than 19 million years worth of content last year, according to new data from Nielsen. 

In total, Americans streamed more than 19.4 million years of content last year, up 27% about 15 million years in 2021. The increase was driven by the breadth of new and expanded services, coupled by the depth of content—particularly streaming originals, Nielsen reported.  

The Nielsen data highlighted the importance of streaming originals at a time when money losing streaming services have been under extreme pressure from Wall Street to cut costs, particularly expensive originals. 

Nielsen noted that before the debut of Netflix’s "House of Cards", which was the first TV series to appear exclusively on a streaming service, virtually all other streaming content had been licensed from other sources. 

Since that time, original content has grown to become a competitive advantage for streaming services, as many original titles attracted viewers to the platforms, and in some cases, they outperformed acquired content, Nielsen said. 

Nielsen researchers noted that the 2022 data showed viewing minutes for top-performing original content dramatically outpaced top-performing acquired content, with Netflix’s "Stranger Things" taking the top slot among all series.

In total, audiences watched 52 billion minutes of "Stranger Things" in 2022, the highest total since COVID-driven lockdowns drove audiences to watch 57.1. billion minutes of the Office back in 2020. The dominance of original content is underscored even more by the fact that there are only 34 episodes of "Stranger Things", while there are 192 episodes of "The Office", Nielsen said. 

In terms of streaming movies, audiences watched 27.4 million minutes of "Encanto", a full-length animated feature that premiered on Disney+ in late December 2021. That equates to it being watched 269 million times. While Encanto had 12 full months to accumulate so much viewing and land on the top streaming list, Netflix’s "Wednesday", which debuted in late November 2022, made the cut with just 36 days of availability on Netflix. 

While original content came of age with audiences in 2022, Nielsen also highlighted the importance of library and acquired content. In the list of the most popular streaming content–original, acquired and movies–only four titles were originals. 

This highlights the immense attraction that library content holds for viewers who spent billions of minutes throughout the year watching popular titles like "NCIS", "Grey’s Anatomy", "Bluey", "Seinfeld", "Criminal Minds" and "The Simpsons".

(Image credit: Nielsen)

(Image credit: Nielsen)
George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.