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The Most-Watched Netflix Original Series Of 2020 Has Been Revealed

For years Netflix has released its own viewership data — unverified by a third party — to illustrate the growing success of the streaming service and its swelling library of original content. But this year, Nielsen — the company long responsible for tracking TV audience data and publishing ratings — finally began releasing viewership numbers for streaming platforms. And with that has come the reveal of a third-party verified winner for Netflix's most watch original series in 2020, which may or may not surprise you. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Jason Bateman and Laura Linney-led family crime drama Ozark was the most streamed show of 2020, racking up over 30 billion watched minutes. The series, which has garnered three Emmys and a SAG award, released its third season in March 2020 — two years after its acclaimed second season dropped on Netflix. It's supersized 14-episode fourth season is currently slated to be its last. 

Not only did Ozark earn the title of the most-streamed original series, but it saw significant season-over-season gains in viewership. Nielsen also reported that the award-winning drama about a family who relocates to Missouri to run a massive money-laundering scheme on behalf of a Mexican cartel averaged 8.7 million viewers in its first 10 days of streaming. Its second season, which debuted in August 2020, saw around 5 million viewers — a 74% season-over-season increase, according to THR. Of the remaining spots on the top ten most viewed originals list, all but one went to a Netflix series. Lucifer, The Crown, Tiger King, The Umbrella Academy, The Great British Baking Show, Boss Baby Back in Business, Longmire, and You all made the cut, with Disney+ hit The Mandalorian taking the fifth position at 14.5 billion streamed minutes. 

Viewers watch more minutes of The Office than any other show in 2020

Despite making number one on the originals list, Ozark is not the year's most-watched streaming title. That honor goes to a series that had been on Netflix up until January 1, 2020, after which it made the switch to Peacock.

Like Friends, streamers have paid big bucks to run The Office on their platforms exclusively, and now it's clear why. The NBC hit from the creative mind of Greg Daniels and starring Steve Carrell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Mindy Kaling, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms, and more was both the most-watched acquired series of the year and the most-watched show on streaming in 2020 overall. Netflix subscribers spent more than 57 billion minutes on the cringe comedy, followed by Grey's Anatomy with 39 billion and Criminal Minds with 35 billion — all more than Ozark's overall streamed minutes. NCIS, Schitt's Creek, Supernatural, Shameless, New Girl, The Black List, and The Vampire Diaries made up the remaining titles on Nielsen's most-streamed acquired series of 2020. 

While Netflix dominated both the original and acquired TV lists, Disney+ edged out its competitors in the streaming film category, and was the only platform to do so. The Mandalorian maker took seven out of ten spots on the most-watched films of the 2020 list, with Frozen II and Moana coming in first and second, and Onward — the first of two 2020 Pixar releases and famously among 2020's many theatrical bombs — in fourth. The recorded version of hit Broadway musical Hamilton appeared alongside fellow Disney releases Toy Story 4, the live-action Aladdin, and Zootopia. Netflix was represented by The Secret Life of Pets II, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, and Spenser Confidential

It's clear that the Disney+ catalog helped push the new platform, which launched in November of 2019, ahead of the pack in the streaming wars, but when it comes to TV and original content, Netflix still reigns supreme.