The Force was clearly with Disney Plus in mid-December 2020.
The season 2 finale of The Mandalorian did the seemingly impossible and stole the top spot from Netflix on Nielsen’s weekly SVOD Top 10 ranking list for the first time.
Since Nielsen launched its weekly ranking of the most viewed shows by total minutes watched on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus back in September, Netflix programs have dominated the list. In fact, no non-Netflix show has finished No. 1 on the list so far.
Also read: Nielsen: ‘The Office’ Goes Out at No. 1
But during the week starting Dec. 14 and ending Dec. 20, which is when the season 2 finale of the Star Wars spinoff debuted, Disney Plus shot to the top. The Mandalorian’s 16 posted episodes garnered 1.336 billion minutes of total viewing. The series took the top spot from Netflix’s The Office, with its 192 posted episodes garnering more than 1.331 billion minutes of total viewing.
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. Another advantage is having a large subscriber base. Netflix has 73 million viewers in the U.S. while Disney Plus has approximately 40 million U.S. subscribers.
While The Mandalorian lead in viewing minutes is slim, for the series to take the top slot is a remarkable defeat given its small library of episodes and Disney Plus’ smaller subscriber base.
The day after Disney Plus launched in November 2019, the service quickly had 10 million subscribers. A rich library that includes Disney, Pixar and Marvel movies helped the streamer quickly jump to 50 million subscribers by spring 2020. Exclusive television shows and movies like Hamilton, live-action Mulan and The Mandalorian helped Disney Plus reach 86.8 million worldwide paid customers a little over a year after launch.
During the company's investor day in December it was announced that 10 new “Star Wars” series iterations will be added to Disney Plus over the next two years. During the The Mandalorian season finale it was revealed that Boba Fett, the “Star Wars” series’ venerable “beskar”-clad bounty hunter, is getting his own Disney Plus show, The Book of Boba Fett, which will debut in December 2021.
The Mandalorian first appeared on the Nielsen list during the week of 10/26-11/1, when it took the No. 3 spot. During the week of Dec. 8, the penultimate season 2 episode of the series pushed the show to No. 2.
Netflix series took all nine other spots on Nielsen’s weekly list. A California Christmas was the lone new Netflix entrant during the week of Dec. 14.
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