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Disney Plus Establishes Presence on Nielsen Weekly SVOD Rankings with 'WandaVision'

'WandaVision' will debut on Disney Plus on Jan. 15
(Image credit: Disney Plus)

In the second full week of 2021, Disney Plus showed that it just may be Netflix’s first real rival in Nielsen’s weekly major U.S. SVOD program rankings.

The debut of Marvel series WandaVision on Disney Plus cracked Nielsen’s original series rankings for the week of Jan. 11-17, tallying 434 million minutes of U.S. streaming. WandaVision joined fellow Disney Plus series The Mandalorian (339 million minutes) on Nielsen's most recent original series list. Up until recently, Nielsen's SVOD rankings had been pretty much all Netlix.

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Nielsen's weekly SVOD original series rankings for Jan. 11-17. (Image credit: Nielsen)

Nielsen, which paused its rankings to rethink them on Jan. 22, is now catching up, publishing its third ranker in just over a week Friday

The rankings tally subscription video-on-demand domestic audience performance based on minutes viewed for the week of January 11-17. For just the third time, the metrics company released separate SVOD rankings for original series, acquired series and movies. But this time, Nielsen didn’t release a combined list for all formats. 

WandaVision, which stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, premiered Jan. 15 on Disney Plus. Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff and Bettany’s Vision are super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives, trying to hide their special powers, until they begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

Also read: Disney Gets in Shouting Distance of Netflix with 146 Million OTT Subs

Nielsen continues to rank only the four biggest SVOD services in the U.S.: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus. Netflix currently has 73 million paid U.S. subscribers, 203 million worldwide.

Disney made news during its Q4/full-2020 earnings report Thursday, signaling that it has nearly 95 million subscribers already for its 14-month-old Disney Plus. When combining that service with Hulu and ESPN, Disney has around 146 million subscription streaming customers worldwide—shouting distance to Netflix and its massive scale.

Disney doesn’t break down how many U.S. subscribers Disney Plus has. But when Nielsen started publishing its SVOD ranker late last summer, Netflix usually occupied all 10 spots. These days, Disney Plus appears more and more. Notably, Disney Plus had three films on Nielsen’s movies list for Jan. 11-17—Soul, Moana and Frozen II.

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Nielsen's weekly SVOD movie rankings for Jan. 11-17. (Image credit: Nielsen)

As for the originals rankings, Netflix incumbents Bridgerton and Cobra Kai retained their top positions, with the Shonda Rhimes period romantic  drama hopscotching the Karate Kid spinoff this time. Bridgerton’s eight episodes, which premiered Dec. 25, captured over 1.3 billion viewing minutes. Meanwhile, Cobra Kai—which debuted its third season Jan. 1—received about half the viewing vs. the previous week, but still had over one billion viewing minutes.

Meanwhile, Disney-Pixar film Soul dropped to the third spot on the movie rankings, commanding nearly 302 million combined minutes of Disney Plus viewing. Netflix’s dystopian action film Outside the Wire took the top movie slot with 556 million viewing minutes. Another Netflix movie, Robert Rodriguez’s family-targeted comedy-action film We Can Be Heroes finished second with 316 million minutes of viewing.

But while Netflix films did take the top two spots of the movie SVOD rankings list for the week of January 11-17, it didn’t dominate the list as it usually does. Disney Plus films took up three spots, and Amazon and Hulu movies also made an appearance.

The same, however, can’t be said for Nielsen’s latest acquired series rankings, where Netflix took all 10 spots. That started with Criminal Minds’ 285 episodes, which garnered 853 million minutes of viewing. Notably absent from the list was Peacock’s The Office. The show, which streamed on Netflix until Jan. 1, has routinely topped Nielsen’s combined rankings in recent months, and it was the No. 1 acquired show for the week of Dec. 28 - Jan. 3., garnering 932 million minutes of viewing in the three days before it changed platforms.

Nielsen’s rankings do not account for Peacock yet. 

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Nielsen's weekly SVOD acquired series rankings for Jan. 11-17. (Image credit: Nielsen)