In 2023, the streaming wars reached new heights. Platforms vied for viewers’ attention with groundbreaking content, strategic maneuvers, and innovative service offerings. Amidst this fiercely competitive landscape, certain shows not only captured the imagination of millions but also held it, week after week. From the legal drama “Suits” to the procedural stalwart “NCIS,” the sustained popularity of these shows offers a fascinating lens through which to view the year’s streaming dynamics.

But 2023 wasn’t just about individual show triumphs. It was a year marked by significant industry milestones: from the writers’ strikes that challenged content production to Netflix’s bold moves against account sharing, and the surge of adaptations that captivated audiences worldwide. As we peel back the layers of these developments, we gain insights into not only what we watched but also how we watched and what this might mean for the future of streaming.

Supported by comprehensive viewership data from Nielsen, this article delves into the 2023 streaming viewership trends you need to see. For a deeper dive into the biggest streaming trends of 2023, visit ExpressVPN’s research, where you’ll find more insights and analysis.

Prepare for an exploration of the shows, strategies, and surprises that defined the year, with visual enhancements that bring the data to life, offering a clearer picture of the evolving streaming landscape.

The Dominance of Long-standing Favorites: “Suits” and “NCIS”

“Suits”: The Legal Drama That Captured Viewers’ Hearts

Suits (2023)

With its sharp wit, compelling characters, and gripping legal conundrums, “Suits” not only entertained but also dominated viewer engagement throughout 2023. Ranking in the top 3 for an impressive 20 weeks, “Suits” showcased the enduring appeal of quality storytelling combined with dynamic character arcs. This achievement, underscored by being the most-watched show in terms of minutes, highlights a broader trend: viewers’ preference for content that offers depth and complexity.

2023 Nielsen Streaming Ratings for Suits

“Suits” Dominated 2023 with 20 weeks in the Top 3 of the Nielsen Streaming Ratings – Large Image

“NCIS” Consistently Captivated Audiences

NCIS” has proven itself to be a masterclass in procedural storytelling, maintaining a top 10 position for an astonishing 49 weeks in 2023. This consistency reflects not just a loyal fan base but also the show’s ability to adapt and remain relevant in a rapidly changing media landscape. Its blend of mystery, drama, and character-driven stories offers a comforting yet engaging viewer experience, demonstrating the power of familiar formats to hold audience interest over time.

2023 Nielsen Streaming Ratings for NCIS

“NCIS” Spent 49 weeks in the Top 10 of the 2023 Nielsen Streaming Ratings – Large Image

Key Streaming Events and Trends of 2023

Writers’ Strikes and Content Creation

2023 Writers Guild Strike

The year witnessed significant turbulence as writers’ strikes posed challenges to content production across the board. The strikes, stemming from disputes over fair compensation and digital rights, led to a noticeable slowdown in the release of new content. This hiatus not only highlighted the crucial role of writers in the entertainment ecosystem but also prompted streaming platforms to explore alternative content strategies, including the acceleration of international productions and a heavier reliance on reality TV and archival content.

Netflix’s Moves Against Account Sharing

2023 Netflix Password Sharing Crackdown

In a bold bid to enhance revenue and crack down on widespread account sharing, Netflix introduced stricter controls and pricing models. This strategic move sparked widespread debate about the future of streaming subscriptions and the balance between user convenience and platform profitability. By analyzing viewer reactions and subscription trends following this policy change, we can gauge its effectiveness and potential long-term effects on the streaming giant’s market position.

The Surge of Adaptations

2023 saw a notable surge in the popularity of adaptations, from bestselling novels and comic books to video games and true-life stories. This trend underscores streaming audiences’ appetite for familiar stories told through fresh, innovative lenses. Successful adaptations not only brought in viewers but also garnered critical acclaim, highlighting the importance of strong source material and creative adaptation processes in capturing the streaming market.

Consolidation Among Streaming Platforms

The streaming industry witnessed significant consolidation as major players sought to expand their content libraries and subscriber bases through mergers and acquisitions. This trend towards consolidation reshaped the competitive dynamics, offering viewers an increasingly diverse range of content under single-platform umbrellas while raising questions about market diversity and consumer choice.

Seasonal Viewing Patterns of 2023

Viewer engagement with streaming content exhibited clear seasonal trends, with peak viewership periods aligning with major holidays and release cycles of anticipated shows and movies in 2023. The “Viewing Minutes by Month” data reveals how these patterns fluctuated over the year, offering insights into when and why audiences were most likely to tune in.

2023 Total Viewing Minutes by Month

2023 Streaming Platform Performance and Strategies

The battle among streaming platforms intensified in 2023, with each player deploying unique strategies to capture and retain viewer interest. Netflix’s aggressive approach to curb account sharing, the expansion of Disney+’s Marvel and Star Wars catalogs, and HBO Max’s investment in high-quality original content are just a few examples of how platforms tailored their strategies to navigate the year’s challenges and opportunities.

2023 Shows with Most Weeks on Top 10 Nielsen Ratings

2023 Shows with Most Weeks on Top 10 Nielsen Ratings

2023 Most Watched Shows in Minutes

2023’s Top 10 Most Watch Shows in Minutes

2023 Most Watched Shows by Month

2023 Most Watched Shows by Month

2023 Top Streaming Platforms by Minutes

Streaming Platform Viewing Minutes in 2023

Netflix Lead with Innovation and Adaptation

Young Sheldon (2023)

“Young Sheldon” ranked #1 for the last two weeks of 2023

Netflix continued to dominate the streaming space. Not just through its crackdown on account sharing but also by diversifying its content slate with global hits and critically acclaimed adaptations. The platform’s strategy to blend algorithm-driven content recommendations with high-quality original productions proved effective in maintaining its market leadership.

Disney+ Capitalized on Franchise Power

Loki (Season 2)

Loki (Season 2)

Disney+’s strategic exploitation of its Marvel and Star Wars franchises underscored the power of established universes in driving subscriber growth. By delivering consistently high-quality additions to these beloved series, Disney+ reinforced its position as a formidable contender in the streaming wars.

HBO Max Doubled Down on Quality Originals

The Last of Us on HBO

“The Last of Us” has won 78 awards

HBO Max set itself apart by investing heavily in original content, like “The Last of Us,” which garnered both audience acclaim and numerous awards. This focus on quality over quantity highlighted the platform’s commitment to sustaining a premium brand image in a crowded marketplace.

The Future of Streaming: What Comes Next?

As we look ahead to 2024 and beyond, several trends suggest the direction in which the streaming industry is headed. The continued importance of original content, the potential for further consolidation among platforms, and the evolving dynamics of global streaming markets are areas likely to shape the future of streaming.

Embracing Technological Advances

Advancements in streaming technology, including improved personalization algorithms and the integration of interactive and VR content, could redefine the viewer experience, making content more immersive and engaging.

Navigating Regulatory Challenges

As streaming platforms expand globally, navigating the complex web of regional regulations and content preferences will become increasingly crucial. Platforms that can effectively adapt to these diverse markets while respecting local norms and laws will likely enjoy significant competitive advantages.

Reflecting on a Year of Streaming Evolution

2023 was a year of significant evolution for the streaming industry. It was marked by strategic shifts, technological advancements, and ever-changing viewer preferences. As platforms continue to adapt and innovate, the future of streaming looks both exciting and uncertain. What remains clear, however, is the industry’s commitment to delivering diverse, high-quality content that meets the evolving demands of a global audience.

We encourage readers to explore the diverse world of streaming content and stay abreast of the latest trends and developments.

If you’d like to analyze on your own, feel free to download our spreadsheet. You’ll find the following tabs in our 2023 Nielsen Ratings report:

  • Overall Weekly Top 10 Raw Data
  • Original Weekly Top 10 Raw Data
  • Acquired Weekly Top 10 Raw Data
  • Movies Weekly Top 10 Raw Data
  • Monthly Most Watched Shows in Minutes
  • Total Viewing Minutes by Month
  • 10 Most Top 3 Ratings
  • Most Weeks Ranked Shows
  • Top Streaming Platforms
  • Most Watched Shows in Minutes
Jimmy P

Senior Editor, BuddyTV