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2023 in movies & TV: The most popular shows & movies on Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video aren't what you'd think

It was the year of Suits, of Ted Lasso, and of Disney animation getting a second chance

Streaming in 2023
Image credit: Suits (NBC Universal)/Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)/Elemental (Pixar/Disney)

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Let’s be honest: we all watch a lot of content on streaming services — and there are a lot of streaming services on which to watch that content. In the U.S. alone, mainstream services include Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Max, Peacock, and Paramount+ Showtime, even before you look at more niche offerings like Shudder, The Criterion Channel, Nebula, and so on. No wonder, then, that according to Nielsen, streaming made up a higher percentage of audience viewing on average in 2023 than either network or cable television.

But what are we all watching? With so much all-new content available, it might come as a surprise that so much of the content watched on streaming platforms in 2023 was made up of… well, TV shows that had previously been broadcast on linear television. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves a little.

Again according to Nielsen, Netflix is the dominant paid subscription platform for viewers, although it has consistently struggled to overtake YouTube in terms of overall viewing time over the past 12 months. Beyond those, Hulu, and then Amazon have notable market share, with Prime Video, Disney+, and Max bringing up the rear. But, as you’ll see below, it appears that what people are using these platforms for might be somewhat different…

Most Watched Streaming Content in the US 2023

Suits
Image credit: NBC Universal

In terms of overall content, two things are clearly dominant: linear television shows, and Netflix as a platform. It appears that, even if other platforms might be buzzier at any given moment depending on their latest offering, Netflix has the scale and the licensing deals to weather whatever storms get thrown at it.

  • Suits (Peacock/Netflix, 49.7 billion minutes viewed)
  • Bluey (Disney+, 39.3 billion minutes viewed)
  • NCIS (Netflix, 35,698 million minutes viewed)
  • Call the Midwife (Netflix, 33,700 million minutes viewed)
  • Grey’s Anatomy (Netflix, 32,251 million minutes viewed)
  • The Big Bang Theory (Max, 22,015 million minutes viewed)
  • Gilmore Girls (Netflix, 16,112 million minutes viewed)
  • S.W.A.T. (Hulu/Netflix, 15,591 million minutes viewed)
  • Friends (Max, 12,569 million minutes viewed)
  • Ted Lasso (Apple TV+, 10,668 million minutes viewed)

Most Watched Acquired TV on Streaming in the US 2023

Bluey
Image credit: Disney+

As might be expected, the top 10 “acquired” television shows — which is to say, shows that have been licensed by any individual platform after initially appearing on linear television — looks extremely like the overall 10 of streaming for the year. Let’s take a brief moment to appreciate the sheer scale of Suits’ success. Who knew that USA Network dramas had this much of an afterlife? (I’m genuinely curious how much of Suits’ 2023 success was down to the Meghan Markle effect, versus people just actually digging the show.)

  • Suits (Peacock/Netflix, 49.7 billion minutes viewed)
  • Bluey (Disney+, 39.3 billion minutes viewed)
  • NCIS (Netflix, 35,698 million minutes viewed)
  • Call the Midwife (Netflix, 33,700 million minutes viewed)
  • Grey’s Anatomy (Netflix, 32,251 million minutes viewed)
  • The Big Bang Theory (Max, 22,015 million minutes viewed)
  • Gilmore Girls (Netflix, 16,112 million minutes viewed)
  • S.W.A.T. (Hulu/Netflix, 15,591 million minutes viewed)
  • Friends (Max, 12,569 million minutes viewed)
  • Heartland (Netflix, 9696 million minutes viewed)

Most Watched Original Streaming Content in the US 2023

Ted Lasso
Image credit: Apple TV+

As the only original content to make it to the top 10 overall streaming chart, Ted Lasso obviously rules the roost when it comes to shows and movies made for streaming services, but it’s again worth noting the dominance of Netflix here — and the relative weakness of Disney+, given the presence of both Star Wars and Marvel in their catalog.

If you’re curious — and I know that you are — Loki is the first Marvel show to appear on the chart, at #24, behind Wednesday, The Witcher, Only Murders in the Building, Squid Game: The Challenge, Beef, and a number of other shows. It’s immediately followed by Ahsoka. Because I know others will ask: Our Flag Means Death doesn’t even break the top 100 original content on streaming for the year. Sorry, all.

Most Watched Movies on Streaming in the US 2023

Moana
Image credit: Disney+

That said, if Disney+ is weak in terms of original content, it’s dominating when it comes to the movies being streamed online — with animated movies and Marvel putting in a sterling performance for the platform.

Knowing how streaming went in 2023, does that change the way you’re going to watch over the next year — and where you’re going to be watching? Let us know in the comments.


A note on our methodology: The figures above come from Nielsen, which monitors streaming usage and releases weekly viewing charts. The dates covered in the above piece only run through December 17, which allows for a surprise upset in terms of overall ranking, even if that is relatively unlikely given the viewing figures already established.

As the year wind downs, it's time to look back and all you've read and watched. Popverse has picked the best movies, best comics, and best TV shows of the year.

But who really cares about what we think? This year, we had you vote for your best movies, best comics, and best TV shows of the year too. Check the lists and mix and see if you agree with our (and your) top choices of the year!

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Graeme McMillan

Staff Writer

Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.

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