‘Stranger Things’ to ‘Yellowstone’: TV’s Hidden Numbers of 2022

As 2022 winds to a close, it’s pretty obvious what some of the biggest TV shows of the year were — Stranger Things, Yellowstone, House of the Dragon and the like.

But you may have missed that two shows aimed at kids under age 6 are also among the most streamed programs in the United States, that American viewers have eyes for both football and, uh, football, or just how big some of those aforementioned hits are.

Here are some of the hidden numbers from the past year in television that help sort it all out.

47: The number of weeks that NCIS and Grey’s Anatomy spent in Nielsen’s streaming top 10 for acquired series — out of 47 released as of publication time (Nielsen’s streaming figures lag by several weeks). They’re the only two series aimed at adults that made the rankings every week of the year, and through those 47 weeks they combined for almost 58 billion minutes of viewing time. Nielsen counts the entire library of a show on streaming in its weekly tally, so while a single episode might only have around 50,000 viewers, the sheer size of their catalogs on Netflix (each more than 350 episodes) meant they made the list every week.

68.95 billion: The combined total viewing minutes for the top three kids’ titles of the year — preschool shows Cocomelon and Bluey and Disney phenomenon Encanto, which was also far and away the most streamed movie of 2022, according to Nielsen. Cocomelon is the only other series to make the Nielsen rankings every single week and has 33.26 billion minutes of streaming through the end of November. Encanto made the top 10 movies for 37 weeks, racking up 22.26 billion minutes of viewing in those weeks. No other feature film got above 9 billion minutes or 21 weeks on the chart. Bluey, meanwhile, spent 30 weeks in the acquired series top 10 for Disney+ and accumulated 13.43 billion minutes of viewing.

23.7 million: Average viewers for the most watched ongoing program on broadcast TV this fall — the 4:25 p.m. ET national NFL broadcasts on CBS and Fox. The five weekly broadcast windows on linear TV — Sunday afternoon games on Fox and CBS, NBC’s Sunday Night Football and ESPN’s Monday Night Football — average at least 12.9 million same-day viewers, or 3 million more than the top broadcast drama (NCIS) gets even with a week of delayed viewing (9.72 million). Thursday Night Football will finish its first season on Amazon’s Prime Video with an average of about 9.6 million viewers, a very solid first foray into the streaming world for the league.

25.78 million: Viewers in millions for the final of the men’s World Cup across Fox, Telemundo, Peacock and Fox Sports digital platforms — the biggest audience ever in the United States for a men’s soccer match. And while regular club play doesn’t draw anywhere near that, soccer has definitely found its niche in the TV sports landscape. The MLS Cup final had 2.16 million viewers on Fox and Univision, the best showing in 25 years. English Premier League matches sometimes reach a million viewers on NBC, as do Liga MX telecasts on Univision.

8.35 million, 5.32: The first number is the average same-day viewers for Yellowstone on Paramount Network in 2022 — including the season four finale from January, and not including simulcasts on other cable channels. The second is how many times bigger Yellowstone was than the second most watched cable scripted series of 2022, The Walking Dead (1.57 million same-day viewers for its 16 episodes). Yellowstone has yet to reach the peak that TWD did in its biggest seasons, but its dominance over the cable landscape is similar. Speaking of which …

3.39 million, 4.12 million: Viewers for post-Yellowstone airings of two other shows from creator Taylor Sheridan, the Sylvester Stallone-led Tulsa King and Yellowstone prequel 1923. The latter was the biggest series debut on cable of the year, and Tulsa King was right behind it. Both shows make their regular home on streaming service Paramount+, so numbers for subsequent episodes aren’t available.

775.23 million: Hours that U.S. viewers spent watching Stranger Things over the 19 weeks it spent in Nielsen’s streaming top 10 following the release of the Netflix hit’s fourth season. The series racked up 46.51 billion minutes of watch time in those 19 weeks, and presumably a couple billion more minutes since it fell off the top 10 in late September. Netflix’s internal rankings have Stranger Things 4 at 1.35 billion hours of viewing in its first 28 days, the benchmark for its all-time rankings. The show stayed in the streamer’s global top 10 for 17 weeks in all, however, racking up more than 515 million additional hours of viewing over that span.

22.3 million: Cross-platform viewers for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC — the most for any entertainment program in any part of the day this year. The parade drew almost 5.7 million more viewers than the Oscars and kicked off what is annually one of the biggest TV days of the year. The NFL’s three Thanksgiving games all hit multi-year highs, and Fox’s late afternoon telecast recorded the biggest audience ever for an NFL regular season game (42.06 million viewers). NBC’s National Dog Show broadcast and a World Cup game on Fox and Telemundo both topped 10 million viewers. And even as NBC’s primetime NFL game was drawing nearly 25 million people, The Masked Singer used its one NFL lead-in on Fox to score 7.86 million viewers, more than double its season average.

9.11 million: The average audience over seven days (not including streaming) for CBS’ Ghosts, which is close to overtaking its lead-in, Young Sheldon (9.19 million), as the most watched comedy on TV (Ghosts already leads Sheldon in the adults 18-49 demographic). The remake of the BBC series has also grown by about 15 percent over this time last season, making it one of the only shows on the broadcast networks to improve year to year.

1.16:1: Ratio of the reported cost of the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power ($465 million, including the huge upfront fee to acquire rights to some of author J.R.R. Tolkien’s works) to the number of worldwide hours of viewing (400 million) Amazon has reported. The series is the biggest to date on the tech giant’s Prime Video streaming service, but it’s also the most expensive show ever.

6.5: Percentage of the House of the Dragon audience — which HBO reported as 29 million across all platforms over the course of the Game of Thrones prequel’s 10-week run — that came from the show’s initial airing on the HBO cable channel. The series averaged 1.87 million viewers at 9 p.m. on Sundays — roughly 20 percent of its first-night audience. The rest came from on-air replays and streaming on HBO Max, with the latter accounting for the majority of those viewers.

5.99 billion: Minutes U.S. viewers spent watching Netflix’s Wednesday in its first week of release, per Nielsen. That’s the second largest week ever in the two-plus years Nielsen has been releasing streaming statistics, behind only a 7.2 billion-minute week for Stranger Things earlier in the year. Netflix’s all-time rankings have Wednesday as its second most popular English-language series ever over 28 days. Jenna Ortega’s dance scene has also inspired countless TikTok riffs.

2,014: Number of episodes across mega-producer Dick Wolf’s three franchises: Law & Order, Chicago and FBI. Wolf has fully colonized three nights of network primetime — Tuesdays on CBS for the FBI shows and Wednesdays (Chicago) and Thursdays (L&O) on NBC. The six-show Law & Order franchise (not including True Crime, which other than the L&O branding has no connection to the others) has a staggering 1,269 episodes under its belt, dating back to the original show’s 1990 debut and covering a combined 61 seasons. The Chicago trio has 571 installments dating back to Chicago Fire‘s 2012 premiere; it, PD and Med have produced a combined 29 seasons. FBI is the youngest of the three, with 174 episodes across 11 cumulative seasons for the flagship and spinoffs Most Wanted and International.

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