What Americans streamed on Netflix in 2020

Most Popular OTT

Netflix has revealed the US viewing trends on its streaming service in 2020. It reflects those highs and lows. Documentaries, reality TV, romance and stories from outside the US saw some of the biggest gains as people sought love, escape and connection through the pandemic.

Viewing of foreign language titles was up over 50% this year (compared to 2019)1. The Platform (Spain), Barbarians (Germany) and Rogue City (France) were the most popular – showing that nothing, not even a stay-at-home order, can shut down people’s curiosity about other cultures or countries. K-drama (viewing almost tripled) and anime (up over 100% in the US) were also significant winners. Kingdom S2 and The King: Eternal Monarch were our favorite K-dramas. And Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution and Blood Of Zeus  were the anime titles that most piqued our interest.

And this wasn’t just a US phenomenon: Money Heist: Part 4 (Spain) hit the Top 10 in 92 countries, Barbarians  (Germany) in 91, #Alive (Korea) in 90, Ragnarok (Norway) in 89 and Lost Bullet (France) in 89 countries. And while not strictly speaking “French”, Emily in Paris, was one of our most popular comedies of the year – even creating a 340+% increase in searches for Kangol bucket hats.

People escaped the shutdown through the reality of other people’s lives, by spending twice as much time watching documentaries and reality TV this year than last year.

It’s top docu-series were Tiger King and Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez and our most successful documentary features were American Murder: The Family Next Door and The Social Dilemma. On the reality TV side, Floor is Lava, Love is Blind and Too Hot To Handle  were our most popular releases of the year.

People in the US also watched twice as much romance this year as in 2019 – with The Kissing Booth 2, Princess Switch: Switched Again and To All The Boys P.S I Still Love You getting the most love and attention. With IRL dating almost impossible, we turned to Love Is Blind, to help fill the void. People loved the show so much that it stayed in the US Top 10 for 47 days straight after its release in February – the second-longest run of any title behind Cocomelon at 64 days. But unlike pre-schoolers, adults don’t tend to watch the same shows over and over again! The Half Of It and Indian Matchmaking both deserve special shout outs – the first for reminding us how hard it can be to tell someone you love them, and the second as a reminder that dating can be truly awkward.

There was a huge jump in viewing of stand-up between March and April (compared to February). And October was the biggest month for comedy viewing generally.

Hubie Halloween, The Wrong Missy, Space Force, Holidate and Kevin Hart, Zero F**ks Given were the most popular comedies of the year – while Never Have I Ever and Sam Jay: 3 In The Morning drove the most laughs on Twitter.

In early April searches on Netflix for “sad movies” spiked nearly 30% from the previous month. All The Bright Places drew the most tearful reactions on Twitter, and thankfully Miracle in Cell No. 7 was also there to help us tackle our surplus of kleenex.

In March, searches on Netflix for ‘home baking shows’ went up almost 50% over the previous month – and people searched for DIY and home shows. The most popular food and home shows were Get Organized with The Home Edit, Nailed It!, Million Dollar Beach House, The American Barbecue Showdown and Crazy Delicious.

Whether stuck at home on our own or with loved ones, people were reminded of the importance of family. There was huge audiences for fictional stories about families in all their complexity – with The Crown Season 4, The Queen’s Gambit, Enola Holmes, Ratched, Ozark Season 3,The Umbrella Academy Season 2 and Hillbilly Elegy among the most popular. And when it came to feel-good entertainment for kids and families, The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two, The Willoughbys, The Angry Birds Movie 2, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey and Over the Moon topped the charts.

Action was huge this year, with Extraction, Spenser Confidential, The Old Guard, Project Power and Cobra Kai showing muscle as the most popular action titles of the year. Da 5 Bloods gets a special commendation – an action adventure about African American soldiers during the Vietnam War, a story that had never been told before despite all the Vietnam movies that have been made.