Disney-Pixar film Soul was the most watched show on subscription video-on-demand over the Christmas holiday, according to Nielsen, commanding nearly 1.7 billion combined minutes of Disney Plus viewing from Dec. 21-27.
It was the second consecutive week that Disney Plus beat out Netflix and took the top spot on Nielsen’s weekly SVOD Top 10 ranking. It was also only the second time since Nielsen’s streaming ranker was introduced in September that two non-Netflix shows made the cut, with Soul joining the previous week’s champion, The Mandalorian, which finished fifth in the latest rankings.
Soul was originally intended for a wide theatrical release, but due to the ongoing COVID-19-caused shuttering of theaters, made a December 25 streaming debut on Disney Plus. (Along with Soul, Disney made two other features, Hamilton and Mulan, available to Disney Plus subscribers in 2020.)
Another high-profile film intended for theaters that debuted on a major subscription streaming service on Christmas Day was HBO Max’s DC sequel Wonder Woman 1984.
Unlike Soul, the superhero movie didn’t completely forgo its theatrical release in the U.S., but was available on HBO Max the day of its premiere. Nielsen only tracks Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus on its new weekly SVOD ranker. So despite WarnerMedia’s claims that its film broke records on its SVOD platform, it’s unclear how Wonder Woman 1984 performed vs. Soul, based on Nielsen’s data.
Earlier, analytics company Samba TV, which uses smart TV usage data to come up with overall viewership estimates, said that approximately 2.4 million Disney Plus homes watched Soul from Dec. 25-27 vs. 2.2 million HBO Max homes watching Wonder Woman 1984 over the same period.
During the week starting Dec. 21 and ending Dec. 27, The Mandalorian’s 16 posted episodes garnered 1.024 billion minutes of total viewing putting it in the fifth spot on the list.
In its final week on Netflix, The Office achieved its all-time weekly viewing minutes high, with its 192 posted episodes garnering more than 1.435 billion minutes of total watching, placing the series in the No. 2 spot on the list.
Netflix, which has nearly twice as many U.S. users vs. the other subscription streaming platforms, has dominated Nielsen's weekly SVOD ranker since its launch. During the third week of December 2020, eight of the streamer’s shows made the list including originals Bridgerton and The Midnight Sky, which ranked third and fourth respectively.
Not surprisingly, two Christmas films available on Netflix made it on the list. Viewers gave 705 billion minutes of time to How the Grinch Stole Christmas and 660 billion minutes to Christmas Chronicles 2.
Since Nielsen ranks streaming content by total minutes of viewing time in the U.S. for all episodes of a series, the measurement tactic gives shows with large libraries an advantage. The fact that four one-offs made it onto the ranker suggests that the decades-long debate as to whether people will still go to movie theaters if they can watch blockbusters at home has been answered.
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