In 2023, US audiences streamed 21 million years' worth of video, a 21% increase from the 17 million years worth they streamed in 2022, according to research by Nielsen. Compared with 2022, however, the writer and actor strikes in Hollywood meant that audiences had significantly less new content to binge throughout much of 2023. That, combined with a focus on content monetization across the streaming landscape, helped inspire new content distribution strategies to keep audiences engaged and loyal amid the range of new service offerings. According to Gracenote, audiences had 90 different streaming services to choose from at the end of last year, up from 51 at the start of 2020.
The depth of those services -just under 1 million unique titles worth- proved vital in 2023, with existing library content becoming instrumental as services carefully rationed the stockpiled originals they had in their arsenals. The environment also inspired new perspectives about content licensing, as titles that were once exclusive to individual platforms began appearing on multiple services, a significant pivot from previous years.
Diving deeper into streaming viewership trends in 2023, there was no clearer beneficiary of this shift than "Suits," which spent a 12-week run in the No. 1 spot on Nielsen's US top 10 list due to its availability on Netflix and Peacock. In total, the program, which originally aired on USA Network from 2011 to 2019, racked up 57.7 billion viewing minutes in 2023, enough to take the crown away from another audience favorite, "The Office," which generated 57.1 billion viewing minutes in 2020 amid pandemic-induced lockdowns. "NCIS" is the other stand-out example of a show with an entirely new life outside of linear TV, landing in the third spot on the acquired list for the year. With its availability on both Netflix and Paramount+, "NCIS" gained 1.3 million viewing minutes from last year to the end of 2023 with 39.4 billion minutes. Unlike the many live-action shows affected by the strikes of 2023, an abundance of animation series were not, including "Bluey" and "Cocomelon," which closed the year in the second and fifth spots.
Despite the presence of the writer and actor strikes last year, a handful of originals did come to market, and the US top 10 titles garnered more than 133 billion minutes viewed. Apple TV+ original "Ted Lasso" became the most-watched original program in 2023.
In the movie category, "Moana," released on Disney+ in late 2019, reached an all-time high of 11.6 billion viewing minutes after landing in the top four spots over the past four years. Since Nielsen began measuring streaming, audiences have watched nearly 80 billion minutes of Moana, translating to watching the full movie 775 million times. Initially released in 2021, " Encanto " 's appeal to audiences continued into 2023 with just under 10 billion viewing minutes. After topping the movie list in 2022 with 27.4 billion viewing minutes,