Nielsen Streaming Ratings: Apple TV Plus’ ‘Ted Lasso’ Is a Surprise Top 10 Entry, While Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Is the Totally Unsurprising No. 1 Finisher

Apple TV Plus original series 'Ted Lasso'
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Netflix’s local-language series sensation Squid Game garnered 1.91 billion streaming minutes in the U.S. for the week of Sept. 20-26, according to Nielsen, making it the most watched show among the major subscription streaming services that week. 

That’s no surprise at all. Netflix already revealed that Squid Game, which premiered Sept. 17, was the most watched show ever on its platform in its first 28 days.

What was entirely surprising, however, was the inclusion of Apple TV Plus and its signature series, Ted Lasso, which suddenly showed up at No. 8 on Nielsen’s top 10 most streamed shows with 509 million viewing minutes for the week ending Sept. 26. 

It’s the first time that Nielsen has included Apple TV Plus alongside the four biggest U.S. subscription streaming services, the shows for which it started ranking last year—Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Disney Plus. In January, Nielsen included a one-week exception for HBO Max and Wonder Woman 1984 for Christmas Week, but no other service has been included in its minutes-streamed rankings to date besides the Big 4 SVODs. 

A source close to the research company said Apple TV Plus will be included in its streaming tabulations going forward. HBO Max will remain out of the equation, unless a standout performance causes Nielsen to consider another exception. 

(Image credit: Nielsen)

So why start ranking Apple TV Plus now?

In case you’re wondering, Episode 10 of the 12-episode Season 2 for the Emmy-beloved Ted Lasso debuted on Sept. 24. Was this a particularly outsized audience performance for the show? Did it really produce a bigger audience than the Season 2 premiere, which dropped July 23?

Questions about platform size also come to mind. Is Apple TV Plus really tall enough to ride the ride?

Netflix revealed earlier this week that it has surpassed 74 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada, a number far outstripping any other subscription streaming service. So it’s understandable why Netflix shows typically dominate Nielsen’s rankings, which are based on total minutes viewed.

AT&T, meanwhile, revealed Thursday that it has 45.2 million subscribers in the U.S. for the IP-based HBO Max and the traditional, linear HBO service combined, a number that matches or exceeds the domestic ranks of both Hulu and Disney Plus. 

For its part, Apple told Hollywood production trade union IATSE  recently that it has less than 20 million subscribers for Apple TV Plus. It was unclear whether Apple meant paying subscribers, since so many users of the service are still getting it free off aggressive promotions tied to Apple hardware. Some research firms have pegged the number of Apple TV Plus sign-ups to be in the 40 million range. 

Either way, it seems strange to embrace Apple TV Plus into the fold while keeping HBO Max on a kind of double-secret promotion. 

(Image credit: Nielsen)

As for Squid Game, its weekly performance was only the fifth best of the year, according to Nielsen, with Wonder Woman 1984, and Netflix shows Manifest, Outer Banks and Virgin River having all surpassed the 2 billion viewing minutes mark earlier this year.

Netflix’s Lucifer, meanwhile, suffered a massive dip in viewership week over week, losing 728 million viewing minutes. Still the supernatural-themed original series took the No. 2 spot with 860 million viewing minutes.

Netflix’s Sex Education, which debuted its third season on the streaming service Sept. 17, took the No. 3 spot generating 856 million viewing minutes during the week of Sept. 20. That’s up 261 million viewing minutes week over week. The teen comedy was renewed for a fourth season on Sept. 25.

After just three days on Netflix, Mike Flanagan’s seven-episode supernatural horror series Midnight Mass took the No. 6 spot with 566 million viewing minutes during the week of Sept. 20-26. 

Starring Zach Gilford, Kate Siegel and Hamish Linklater, Midnight Mass follows an isolated island community that experiences miraculous events and frightening omens after the arrival of a mysterious priest. 

For the first time in five weeks, Manifest didn’t make Nielsen’s top ten chart. The show ‘s 42 episodes drew just 430 million viewing minutes. That’s down by 282 million viewing minutes week over week. 

And after four weeks on Nielsen’s top 10, Netflix’s limited series Clickbait also got pushed off the overall ranker.

Debuting the sixth of its 10 first-season episodes on Sept. 21, Hulu’s star-studded comedy Only Murders in the Building continue to see its audience drop. The show starting Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez as true-crime podcasters drew 299 million streaming minutes for the week of Sept. 20-26, down from 311 million the week prior. It was the ninth most watched SVOD original series for the week, according to Nielsen’s sub ranking of streaming originals.

(Image credit: Nielsen)

Finally, the Netflix thriller Intrusion, which debuted on the platform Sept. 22 was the No. 1 movie during a down week for streaming films, capturing 331 million U.S. streaming minutes, Nielsen said. 

(Image credit: Nielsen)

Previous Weekly Rankings:

Sept. 12-19: Netflix Phenom ‘Squid Game’ Got Off to a Surprisingly Slow Start

Sept. 6-11: Netflix’s ‘Clickbait’ Holds Off Surging ‘Lucifer’

August 30 - Sept. 5: Netflix’s 'Clickbait' Steals Audience Traffic From 'Manifest'

August 23-29: Netflix’s 'Manifest' Soars Back to No. 1 with the Debut of Season 3

August 16-22: Netflix’s ’Outer Banks’ Loses 37% of Its Audience, Still Finishes No. 1

August 9-15: Netflix’s Scrappy ‘Outer Banks’ Maintains the No. 1 Spot

August 2-8: Netflix's ‘Outer Banks’ Surpasses 2.1 Billion Viewing Minutes

July 26 - August 1: Netflix's 'All American' Edges 'Outer Banks' for No. 1

July 19-25: Netflix’s ‘Virgin River’ Maintains the No. 1 Spot

July 12-18: Netflix’s ‘Virgin River’ Ends Five-Week ‘Manifest’ Winning Streak

July 5-11: #SaveManifest Movement Picks Up Steam as Netflix Series Becomes the Most Watched SVOD Show for 5th Straight Week

June 28-July 4: Amazon’s $200 Million Bet on Paramount’s ‘The Tomorrow War’ Pays Off

June 21-27: ‘Manifest’ Continues Series Saving Flight Plan on Netflix

June 14-20: Netflix’s ‘Manifest’ Scores the Year’s Biggest SVOD Audience So Far

June 7-13: Netflix’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ Shows Bite for the Week of June 7-13

May 31-June 6: Netflix’s ‘Lucifer’ Bedevils SVOD’s Biggest Audience Since Season 3 of 'Cobra Kai’ Debuted in January

May 24-30: Netflix’s ‘Lucifer’ Has SVOD’s Biggest Week* Since ‘Coming 2 America’ Debuted in Early-March

May  17-23: Zack Snyder’s ‘Army of the Dead’ on Netflix Leads a Rather Lifeless Week for the U.S. Streaming Biz

May 10-16: ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ Not Good Enough For Netflix to Renew, But Strong Enough to Lead the Week of May 10-16

May 3-9: Netflix’s $100 Million Bet on Sony’s ‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’ Pays Off

April 26 - May 2: Netflix’s ‘Shadow and Bone’ Edges Hulu’s ‘Handmade’s Tale' in Rebound Week for the Streaming Biz

April 19-25: Netflix’s ‘NCIS’ Off-net Run Wins Another ‘Easttown and Down' Week for the U.S. SVOD Biz

April 12-18: Disney Plus’ ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Builds to 855 Million Streaming Minutes and a No. 1 Finish

April 5-11: Give Netflix's 'Thunder Force' Five for Winning the Week of April 5-11

March 29 - April 4: Netflix’s ‘The Irregulars’ Tops the Easter Week Charts

March 22-28: - 'Falcon and Winter Soldier' Tops SVOD Originals

March 15-21: - 'Grey's Anatomy' Re-Runs Top SVOD Ranker

March 8-14: - ‘The Crown’ Got Royal Gains from Meghan’s Big Oprah Interview

March 1-7: - Amazon Tops the Charts for the First Time with ‘Coming 2 America’

Feb 22-28: - Netflix’s 'Ginny & Georgia' Leads the SVOD Biz