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Nielsen: ‘Bridgerton’ Backs Up Netflix’s ‘Biggest Original Series Ever’ Boast

From left: Regé-Jean Page as Simon Basset and Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne Bridgerton in Netflix's 'Bridgerton'
(Image credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix)

Netflix’s powerful boast in January that Bridgerton had its biggest first-28-day premiere for any original series ever is now being supported by actual third-party data.

According to Nielsen’s latest SVOD charts, the Shonda Rhimes-produced, Regency period-set romantic drama was once again the big winner for the week of Jan. 18- 24, capturing more than 1 billion minutes of total viewing. This marks the fifth consecutive week that the drama's eight first-season episodes, which premiered Dec. 25, have surpassed a billion minutes of U.S. streaming. The show is also the only program or movie to reach the 1 billion minutes mark during the week of Jan. 18.

Nielsen’s latest SVOD rankings, released Thursday, were also the fourth consecutively in which Bridgerton and Netflix’s Cobra Kai retained in the top two positions on the original series rankings. But for the first week since debuting its third season Jan. 1, Cobra Kai fell below the 1 billion viewing minutes mark with its 30 episodes garnering 727 million minutes of total streaming.

Nielsen Weekly SVOD rankings - original series for Jan. 18-24

(Image credit: Nielsen)

Since September, Nielsen has ranked U.S. subscription video-on-demand domestic audience performance based on minutes viewed. The data company continues to rank only the four biggest SVOD services in the U.S.: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus.

Starting in February, Nielsen has released three different SVOD rankings: original series, acquired shows and movies. And it continues to release a master ranking of all shows on the biggest four U.S. SVOD services, as it has since September. 

With 73 million paid U.S. subscribers, Netflix has a clear advantage--unlike traditional broadcast TV ratings, in which each network had parity, the size of the streaming service definitely matters in terms of what shows come out on top. 

That said, for the second straight week, the Marvel series WandaVision on Disney Plus cracked the original series rankings, tallying 376 million minutes of U.S. streaming for just three episodes. WandaVision was the only non-Netflix show on the originals list this week, dropping from the No. 6 spot on the list to No. 7. For the first time in last six weekly Nielsen ratings, Disney Plus original series The Mandalorian did not make the cut.

Another factor in ranking the streaming universe--having more episodes available is an advantage, too.

In the acquired program rankings, Netflix once again occupied all 10 spots. Criminal Minds’ 297 episodes took the number one spot by garnering 939 million minutes of viewing. The off-network procedural crime drama also came in second place on the master Nielsen SVOD chart. 

Also making the acquired list was Netflix’s Henry Danger—a ViacomCBS show produced for its Nickelodeon linear channel. The show’s three seasons and 64 episodes garnered 731 million viewing minutes, which placed it in third place on the acquired rankings list and fourth on the master list. It’s unclear if the show will continue to appear on Netflix after the launch of Paramount Plus, which Nielsen does not rank, on March 4.

Nielsen weekly SVOD rankings - acquired series for Jan. 18-24

(Image credit: Nielsen)

Notably absent from the list was Peacock’s The Office. The show, which streamed on Netflix until Jan. 1, routinely topped Nielsen’s combined rankings in recent months.

As companies like WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal and now ViacomCBS pull their content off Netflix and onto to their own respective new OTT platforms, it creates yet another challenge for Nielsen. By covering just the four biggest SVOD platforms, the data company clearly isn’t accounting for a large chunk of U.S. streaming video usage.

Still, Nielsen continues to evolve the product, and the recent addition of a list focused just on movies was a step in the right direction

For the week of Jan. 18, Amazon Studios’ One Night in Miami cracked the movie list, coming in ninth place with 140 million minutes of viewing. Directed by Regina King, the film is a fictional account of a gathering following Muhammad Ali famous defeat of Sonny Liston in February 1964. The film opened in select theaters on Dec. 25 before launching on Amazon Prime Video on Jan. 15.

Netflix’s Outside the Wire took first place for the second consecutive week, commanding 553 million viewing minutes. That was down 3 million views week to week. Outside the Wire was the only movie to make the Nielsen SVOD master list, coming in at No. 10.

The Disney-Pixar film Soul dropped to the fourth spot on the movie rankings, garnering 266 million minutes of viewing. 

While Netflix films did take the top three spots on the movie ranking list for the week of Jan. 18-24, it once again failed dominate this particular chart. In fact, Disney Plus had four films on the movies list—SoulMoanaFrozen II and Beauty and the Beast.

Nielsen weekly SVOD rankings - movies for Jan. 18-24

(Image credit: Nielsen)