New Netlflix original series Firefly Lane was once again the most watched show in the U.S. among the four biggest subscription streaming services, capturing 1.288 billion minutes of viewing for the week of Feb. 8-14, according to Nielsen.
Another Netflix show, Joe Berlinger’s four-part docuseries Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, finished just behind Katherine Heigl drama Firefly Lane in second place, with 1.286 billion combined minutes. Focused on the disappearance of college student and tourist Elisa Lam from Los Angeles’ infamous Cecil Hotel, the show premiered Feb. 10.
The off-network streaming run of NBCUniversal basic cable crime drama The Sinner, meanwhile, came in third place, with 1.229 billion minutes watched on Netflix.
Seemingly the most buzzed about show on TV right now, streaming or linear, Marvel’s Disney Plus sensation WandaVision finished in 10th place, scoring 596 million combined minutes of streaming. But the WandaVision story is a little deeper than that. To understand, we need to first once again go over the basics of Nielsen’s methodology.
Nielsen only ranks shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus at this point. Each week, the research company publishes a snapshot of viewing a month prior. In addition to a master ranking of all SVOD shows, Nielsen also publishes drilled own rankings for original series, acquired series and movies.
Typically, Netflix dominates these lists simply because it has far more subscribers than any other service. Shows with longer tails also have an advantage—more episodes to binge on means more total minutes of viewing.
All of this renders WandaVision’s performance more remarkable than it seems. For the week of Feb. 8-14, only six installments of the eight-part WandaVision miniseries were available for viewing, on a Disney Plus platform that has an estimated 40 million viewers in the U.S. vs. more than 70 million for Netflix.
Indeed, Nielsen’s rankings still have an apples-and-oranges-ishness to them. But given the lack of solid third-party metrics from established research companies currently available in the realm of video streaming, the company's evolving weekly rankings are really all we’ve got.
And Nielsen’s data weekly data sets do render a winning ratings narrative for WandaVision, if you look closely enough. The show has steadily grown its total viewing minutes week after week. Also tellingly, it’s the No. 3 ranked show on Nielsen’s original series rankings for Feb. 8-14.
Finishing in fourth place on Nielsen’s original series chart, but notably missing from the master SVOD rankings, was Netflix original Bridgerton, which premiered Dec. 25. The eight-episode, Shonda Rhimes-produced romantic drama garnered 409 million minutes of total viewing for Feb. 8-14--down 250 million minutes week over week. Netflix said earlier that Bridgerton was its most watched original series ever over its first 28 days on the platform.
In the acquired series rankings, The Sinner edged out defending champ Criminal Minds, with 24 Sinner episodes garnering 1.229 billion viewing minutes. The USA Network anthology crime series, which began airing in 2017, made its season 3 debut on Netflix on Feb. 6.
Netflix’s streaming of the CBS procedural Criminal Minds drew 948 million minutes of viewing, with Netflix licensing 12 seasons and 302 episodes of the show. There’s no word as to if or when ViacomCBS might take back the rights to the crime drama in order to stream the show on the recently launched Paramount Plus.
Another ViacomCBS show streaming on Netflix finished third on the acquired program chart, Nickelodeon series iCarly. The first two seasons of the popular teen comedy were added to Netflix on Feb. 8. The show’s first 60 episodes drew 883 million viewers per minute. Notably, a reboot of iCarley is set to appear on Paramount Plus.
Since September, Nielsen has ranked U.S. subscription video-on-demand domestic audience performance based on minutes viewed. Despite the onslaught on new streaming services like Paramount Plus, Discovery Plus and HBO Max, the data company continues to rank only the four biggest SVOD services in the U.S.: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus.
While Netflix, which has more than 73 million users in the U.S., continues to dominate Nielsen’s SVOD rankings charts, Disney Plus is creating competition in the movie ranker chart. During the week of Feb. 8-14, Disney Plus and its reported 40 million U.S. subscribers
made their presence known. Moana, Frozen, Frozen II, Avengers: Endgame and Soul took up half the spots on the weekly list usually dominated by Netflix.
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