Someone somewhere in the United States is probably watching an episode of Gray’s Anatomy now, or if not, an installment NCIS. Probably someone younger than 7 is streaming Cocomelon.
Nielsen began releasing its weekly streaming charts three years ago, and in the 157 weeks since then, these three series have topped the charts more than any other title on any streaming platform. In fact, not a single week has passed since the first chart (released on September 3, 2020 and covering the week of August 3 to 9) in which at least one of the following Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS or Cocomelon.
Gray’s Anatomy also has the longest streak of consecutive weeks in the top 10. The show, which is streamed on Netflix, appeared on the very first ranking and remained present throughout 2021 and 2022 before finally falling out of the top 10 acquired series the week of May 8-14, 2023 — a series of 144 weeks. The medical drama has appeared in 153 of the 157 Nielsen streaming rankings at the time of publication.
NCIS (136 consecutive weeks, 147 in total) and Cocomelon (135 weeks, all consecutive) could succeed Gray benchmark in a few months if they continue to make the rankings, as they have every week since early 2021.
When we analyze the three-year ranking (which covers only television viewing in the United States), a few patterns become apparent. The most obvious is that because of the way Nielsen calculates streaming view (the total time spent watching all episodes of a series), shows with large libraries have a distinct advantage. Of the twelve titles that have spent the most time in the rankings, six (Grey’s, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Supernatural, Gilmore Girls And The big bang theory) are current or former broadcast series with a minimum of 150 episodes each. a seventh, Hartlandhas been running in Canada since 2007 and has over 230 episodes available to streaming users south of the border.
Even without a major run of episodes, four titles have consistently made the streaming rankings thanks to a ton of repeat views – largely by kids. Cocomelon, which is aimed at preschoolers, has been in the top 10 acquired series for 135 weeks, despite only having about 20 hours of programming on Netflix, but it’s 20 hours that young kids watch over and over (and over and over and about). In the same way, Bluish’The catalog of 140 episodes on Disney+, each about eight minutes long, adds up to just under 19 hours, but it’s one of only two kids’ series to ever top the billion watch minutes in one week in the Nielsen rankings. ( the other was The Legend of Korra August 2020).
Disney movies Moana (84 weeks in the top 10 movies list) and Encanto (58 weeks) – the only two feature films in the twelve most consistent titles – also benefit from repeat viewing. The threshold for making the top 10 movies in Nielsen’s rankings is also typically lower than for series, which is no surprise given that a feature film takes a few hours of viewing time compared to tens or hundreds of hours of running time for a series.
Only one original streaming series ranks among the 12 most consistently ranked shows, and that brings a catch. The Great British Baking Show is a Netflix original outside the UK, but is produced by Channel 4 in its home country and airs there for a few days before streaming in the US. It’s also one of the few Netflix shows whose new seasons stick to a weekly release pattern (again due to its origins as a UK wireless show) and has a larger library than many other original shows.
In general, original series — whether they’re released all at once, weekly, or somewhere in between — tend to burn hot and bright for a while before dropping out of the rankings between seasons. The crown then has the most weeks in the top 10 (38) of any original series The Great British Baking ShowAnd Stranger things has the longest streak of consecutive weeks in the rankings at 19.
Stranger thingshowever has only one week left in the top 10 for a total of 20, and another huge showing, Ozark, only has 25. That’s due to the fact that they’ve all only had one new season in their three years on the Nielsen rankings; the rest came well before the weekly chart debuts.
The 12 shows and movies that most consistently appear in the Nielsen streaming top 10s are below.