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Netflix Wins 2022 Nielsen Streaming Ratings Game as ‘Stranger Things’ Challenges ‘The Office’ Binge

Americans are streaming now more than ever, with 19.4 million years of content watched last year, up by 27 percent from 2021.

Medium-close shot of a child wearing a white vest and screaming while sparks fly and a figure is thrown backward behind her; still of Millie Bobby Brown in "Stranger Things 4."

“Stranger Things 4”

Courtesy of Netflix

The 2022 Nielsen Streaming Unwrapped report has crowned Netflix the leading streaming platform, despite the company’s corporate ups and downs — and exodus of subscribers — throughout the past year.

Per the official Nielsen report, streaming services across the board have gained momentum to be the favored platform for content consumption. Yet it is Netflix original programming that has taken off in particular. Since the platform began rolling out original shows in 2012 with “Lilyhammer” (and then blockbuster “House of Cards” a year later), Netflix has been at the forefront of original content in the competitive streaming wars.

Nielsen ratings noted that “many original titles were responsible for twice the viewing time of top-performing acquired content in 2022,” with “top-performing original content dramatically outpacing top-performing acquired content.” Of course, Netflix’s “Stranger Things” Season 4 topped the streaming ratings and broke records for the platform. Audiences watched 52 billion minutes of “Stranger Things” in 2022, the highest total for a single series since COVID-driven rewatches of “The Office” in 2020. Shockingly, “The Office” in 2020 actually beat out the “Stranger Things” 2022 figure with 57.1 billion minutes streamed then in heart of lockdown — such is the power of Michael Scott and crew. However, the per-episode breakdown for “Stranger Things” is more impressive, given that that show only has 34 episodes (granted, each are over an hour), to “The Office” with 192 episodes around 20 minutes each.

“The Office” also was an NBC broadcast original series, with “Stranger Things” exclusively available on streaming via Netflix.

Netflix itself dominated the Top 10 Streaming charts with 13 out of the 15 titles being exclusive to the platform, per Nielsen. Following “Stranger Things,” shows like “Ozark,” “Wednesday,” “Cobra Kai,” “Bridgerton,” “Virgin River,” and “Dahmer” led the first half of the chart, with reality series “Love Is Blind” and “The Great British Baking Show” not too far behind. Prime Video’s “The Boys” and “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” were the sole non-Netflix shows included on the list.

As for overall top streaming programs, “NCIS” came in second to “Stranger Things,” albeit with a massive difference, almost half of the minutes-streamed by comparison, with 38 billion minutes across 356 episodes. “NCIS” is available on Netflix as well.

The deep libraries for streamers have also been noticed by viewers, with beloved series like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Seinfeld,” “Criminal Minds,” “Bluey,” and “The Simpsons” among the top streamed series. Only four titles that made that top list were originals, with “Stranger Things” leading overall.

And Americans are streaming now more than ever, with 19.4 million years of content watched, up by 27 percent from 15 million years in 2021. That streaming number is bolstered by films viewed on various platforms, like Disney+’s “Encanto” taking the top spot with 27.4 million minutes watched.

To compare, “Encanto” premiered in late December 2021 on the Disney streamer and had a full 12 months to accumulate that viewing number; Netflix’s “Wednesday” dropped in late November 2022 and immediately entered the top of the charts within just 36 days of availability.

“Turning Red” and “Moana” were more Disney+ titles that made the top 15 streaming movies list, with five Netflix-available films: “Sing 2,” “The Adam Project,” “Don’t Look Up,” “The Gray Man,” and “Uncharted.”

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