With millions of Americans staying home due to COVID-19, many are finding themselves turning to their television, and more specifically streaming services, for entertainment in their isolation.
According to a report done by Nielsen, in the first three weeks of March, television streaming increased 85%, with minutes up 400 billion from March 2019. As of March 16, consumers watched 156.1 billion minutes of TV content, a 22% increase from the week prior.
Data from this report did not include streaming data from mobile or PC devices, so the total amount of streaming in the country is most likely a lot higher.
Obviously, there’s a clear leader in viewership numbers — Netflix.
This streaming service rang in its quarter one earnings with a whopping $5.77 billion in revenue with an additional $15.77 million in worldwide subscriptions. So, why is Netflix king?
According to an article by Wired in January, Netflix might seem more popular than it is. While Nielsen grabs statistics from a sample size of households to provide their research with viewing habits, streaming services like Netflix get to pick exactly how they want to report viewership, so data is at the mercy of whatever the service wants to share.
“[Netflix] only selectively releases viewing numbers for its most popular shows and films,” Wired reported. “[It] has an ever-evolving definition of what a ‘view’ really means.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Netflix counts a show or movie as “viewed” if it was played for at least two minutes. This new standard is a far cry from its former cut off point, which demanded the viewer to get through at least 70% of the media.
Netflix’s rise is clear, but it wouldn’t be wrong to take it with a grain of salt. Streaming services choose how they count their viewers, so we can’t be 100% sure where it stands in relation to other services if there was a standard operating definition of the term “viewership.”
That being said, it’s still impossible to ignore the incredible numbers Netflix’s popular shows “Tiger King” and “Ozark” are racking up.
According to a different Nielsen report, “Tiger King” collected 5.3 billion minutes in March, leading its runner up, “Ozark” — who stood at 3.5 billion minutes — by a 50% margin.
Unsurprisingly, this gigantic number translated “Tiger King” into being the most viewed title in all of subscription TV around the week of Mar. 23, thus explaining Netflix’s evident superiority.
The extensiveness of the ever-growing selection of streaming services has not been lost on the American public during this quarantine. This means Netflix has not been the only one to make positive strides — the general public hasn’t shied from rewarding attention to other services like Youtube, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney Plus and HBO.