Coronavirus BRIEFING

In Times of Crisis, Americans Binged 'Comfort Food TV'

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As people have been confined to their own homes for large parts of 2020, with restaurants, gyms and movie theaters closed and professional sports halted for months, video streaming has emerged as one of the most popular pastimes during the pandemic, according to a recent feature from Statista.com.

And while new, original formats such as Tiger King, The Mandalorian or Ozark tend to make the most waves, both on social media and in streaming platforms’ marketing efforts, consumers were drawn to the familiar in 2020, as real life was already nerve-wrecking enough for many people’s taste. Shows like The Office, Friends or Grey’s Anatomy offer a timeless blend of escapism in stressful times, which is why many people rewatch their favorite TV shows over and over again.

According to data published by Nielsen, just 3 of the 10 most streamed shows of 2020 were streaming originals, all of them being Netflix productions. The Office was by far the most popular show in the U.S. last year, racking up 57 billion streaming minutes, followed by Grey’s Anatomy with 39.4 billion minutes. Ironically, the most popular streaming original, Ozark, goes completely against the trend of comfort viewing, as it the exact opposite of feel-good television.