“The Office,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Criminal Minds” represent three genres that have played an important role in American entertainment – workplace comedies and medical and criminal drama. They also have a combined library of 830 episodes, which greatly improves them on the Nielsen lists, which ranked shows based on total minutes watched. (“Grey’s Anatomy” is still on ABC and is in season 17.)
“These programs benefited disproportionately from the fact that they only had a lot of real estate and saw many episodes,” said Brian Fuhrer, senior vice president at Nielsen. “And what they do too is that they convey a sense of normalcy. You can go back and find out what happened to Dwight Schrute. “
Among the original series, the only non-Netflix show in Nielsen’s top 10 list was the popular spin-off “The Mandalorian” from Disney + “Star Wars”.
The Netflix documentary “Tiger King” was the only show on Nielsen’s original series list with just eight episodes. It premiered on March 20, when home stay orders were being placed across the country, and a week before the third season of “Ozark” became available on Netflix.
“Both met in the middle of the pandemic when people were locked up at home and didn’t have much to do,” said Führer. “They were both viewed extremely strongly.”
While broadcast and cable networks rely on Nielsen to let them know what people are watching, all streaming companies have their own internal metrics. Neither of them publicly endorsed Nielsen’s methods, nor do they need those numbers to determine which shows to promote or cancel.
For more than a year, Netflix has been posting numbers for original shows around the world to give an idea of what people are watching. However, the list has significant limitations. Netflix counts viewers who watch only two minutes of a program, and the service is extremely selective on the shows and films that are reported on. (For example Netflix recently Shonda Rhimes’ new drama “Bridgerton” was the fifth most popular original series on the service, with viewers in the same league as “Tiger King” and “The Queen’s Gambit”.