It goes without saying that 2020 has been a very — very — long year. If you’re like most people, you’ve spent more time at home than ever in the past nine months, which has given you a lot of downtime.
Chances are, you’ve subscribed to at least one new streaming platform this year, because what else do you have going on? Since many television series and movies are exclusive to the streaming service they call home, it can be hard to resist not acquiring at least a few subscriptions. Americans spent $15.9 billion in streaming services in 2019. And Cloud tech company Grabyo found that Americans are collectively spending an average of $1 billion a month more on video streaming since January, which could result in a total spend of over $27 billion in 2020 if the increase holds true for all 12 months.
Despite its many drawbacks, 2020 was able to deliver plenty of quality television series and movies. Here’s a look at the most popular streaming services and some of their most successful content, in case you somehow haven’t seen it.
- Monthly cost: $8.99-$17.99 per month
- Number of subscribers: 195 million
- Q3 revenue: $6.4 billion
Keep reading to see what people were watching on Netflix.
1. ‘Tiger King’
Released on March 20, “Tiger King” became a mega-hit for Netflix. Starring zoo owner Joe Exotic, this delightfully bizarre docuseries highlighted the dark underworld of big cat breeding.
A murder-for-hire plot, along with a cast of unique personalities, made this one of the most talked-about shows of 2020. In fact, 64 million households streamed “Tiger King” during the first quarter of the year, according to Netflix.
2. ‘Love Is Blind’
Hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, “Love Is Blind” is Netflix’s original dating series like none other. Packaged as a social experiment, male and female contestants get to know each other blindly, not meeting face to face until after they get engaged.
A smashing success, 30 million households streamed “Love Is Blind” during the first quarter of 2020, according to Netflix.
3. ‘The Last Dance’
Michael Jordan is largely considered the greatest basketball player of all time, so it’s only fitting that a documentary centered on him would break records. Making history as the most-viewed ESPN documentary ever, “The Last Dance” averaged 5.6 million viewers across its 10-episode run, according to Variety.
Along with Jordan, several other stars appear in the documentary about the 1990s Chicago Bulls, including Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.
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4. ‘Schitt’s Creek’
A Pop TV original, “Schitt’s Creek” follows the previously filthy-rich Rose family, who fell on hard times and was forced to move to a small town the father once bought as a joke. Co-created by Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy, the sitcom stars the real-life father-son duo, along with Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy.
The show’s sixth and final season debuted on Jan. 7 and still has fans buzzing. From Oct. 5 to 11 alone, U.S. fans viewed 1.46 billion minutes of the series, according to Nielsen.
You can also watch “Schitt’s Creek” on Amazon Prime Video, which costs $8.99 per month.
- Monthly cost: $14.99 per month
- Number of subscribers: 28.7 million
- Q3 revenue: $1.8 billion (HBO revenue)
Read on to see what was a hit on HBO Max.
1. ‘The Undoing’
When a series is created by David E. Kelly and stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, you know it’s going to be good. A six-part HBO Max limited series, “The Undoing” debuted Oct. 25 and was the premium cable provider’s first original series to grow its audience each week, according to the company.
Interestingly, the show’s Nov. 29 finale drew 3 million viewers across all platforms, serving as HBO’s highest ratings for an original series since the “Big Little Lies” finale in 2019 — which was also created by Kelly.
2. ‘The Vow’
An inside look at the controversial NXIVM self-improvement group, “The Vow” captivated viewers from its Aug. 23 debut. The HBO docuseries follows several former members as they highlight their experiences with the group and its founder Keith Raniere — who has since been convicted of several crimes, including sex trafficking and racketeering.
“The Vow” was so popular, it has been renewed for a second season, which will debut in 2021.
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- Monthly cost: $4.99 per month
- Number of subscribers: est. 40 million by end of 2020
- Fiscal Q4 earnings: $64.7 billion (Apple revenue)
Find out what viewers were interested in on Apple TV+.
1. ‘Ted Lasso’
In this Apple TV+ original series, American football coach Ted Lasso — played by Jason Sudeikis — is met with cynicism when he moves to England to manage a soccer team. “Ted Lasso” debuted Aug. 14, and since then its viewership has surged more than 600%, according to Deadline.
In fact, the comedy series is so popular, it received an early season 3 renewal in October, despite the fact that production on season 2 hasn’t yet begun.
- Monthly cost: $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year
- Number of subscribers: 73 million
- Fiscal Q4 earnings: $14.71 billion (Disney)
Keep reading to see what was watched on Disney+.
Featuring an all-star cast — led by Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer — “Onward” is a Disney and Pixar film centered on teenage elf brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot. The boys get the chance to spend one more day with their late father and embark on a magical journey aboard Barley’s van Guinevere.
Unfortunate timing, “Onward” was released in theaters on March 6, right before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Consequently, Disney offered an early digital release of the film on April 3.
The film is included with a Disney+ subscription. You can also rent “Onward” for $3.99 or purchase it for $19.99 on Amazon.
- Monthly cost: $5.99-$60.99 per month or $59.99 per year for basic Hulu
- Number of subscribers: 36.6 million
- Fiscal Q4 earnings: $14.71 billion (Disney)
Read on to see what Hulu users were watching in 2020.
1. ‘Little Fires Everywhere’
Based on Celeste Ng’s 2017 bestselling novel “Little Fires Everywhere,” this Hulu miniseries stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. The drama follows the picture-perfect Richardson family as their lives intertwine with a mysterious mother and daughter.
On March 30, Deadline reported the first four episodes of the series — all that had been released at the time — had been watched by more subscribers than any other program on Hulu during the past two weeks.
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Showtime drama “Billions” returned for its fifth season on May 3, but was split into two parts, due to filming disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to TVLine. The second half of the season will air in 2021, along with the mega-successful show’s sixth season.
Starring Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis, “Billions” chronicles the politics behind New York City’s high-powered financial world. If you haven’t already done so, there’s never been a better time to binge-watch this popular series. You can watch this series by adding Showtime on Hulu, at the additional cost of $4.99 per month or a Showtime subscription on its own costs $8.99 per month.
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