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Looking Back on 2020: Hulu’s Year End Report

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2020 has been a year unlike any other. We’ve faced a tremendous amount of change and uncertainty while adjusting to our “new normal” each passing day. Spending more time at home, adapting to a virtual-first world and completing far too many DIY projects have become second nature at this point.

Through it all, our viewers’ love of streaming content has remained strong. For many, this content provided a sense of comfort and entertainment. For others, it’s been a primary way to stay connected with friends and family. Whichever category you fall into, it’s safe to say that streaming TV has become a source of stability in our ever-changing world. 

Hulu viewers escaped reality with…well…reality! Among all Hulu viewers (live and on demand), unscripted content was the #1 genre in terms of content hours watched and percentage of overall consumption. In fact, minutes watched in unscripted series increased +48% YoY, driven by top unscripted titles like Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Viewers also reminisced with the oldies but goodies as the Classic TV subgenre saw a +77% YoY increases in minutes watched as viewers got lost in countless episodes of I Love Lucy, M*A*S*H and The Twilight Zone.

Before letting the credits roll on 2020, we wanted to take a look back at some trends we’ve seen this past year: Which series had viewers clamoring for another season? Which episodes left audiences on the edge of their seat? Which live events broke viewership records? Answers to these questions are just a scroll away!

Most Watched Episode

Little Fires Everywhere season premiere, “The Spark,” was our most popular episode in 2020. When you combine Reese, Kerry and some fiery 90’s references, what’s not to love?!

Most Watched Movie

It’s easy to glue ourselves to our laptops, living room televisions and mobile devices these days — but it’s even easier to do so when the content we’re watching is relatable. The most-watched movie on Hulu in 2020 was our Hulu Original film, Palm Springs. The infinite time loop Sarah and Nyles live in surely hits close to home! Another popular film this year was the drama induced, Parasite. This Oscar-winning blockbuster hit was the most-watched film on Hulu from March to May.

Most Watched LIVE programs

In case you haven’t heard, Hulu Has Live Sports. Even with delayed and abbreviated seasons, 5 of our top 10 Live programs in 2020 were dedicated to sports: NFL Football, College Football, NBA Basketball, SportsCenter and MLB Baseball together accounted for the majority of Live hours watched. Our viewers are especially football fanatics with Super Bowl LIV: 49ers vs. Chiefs topping the charts for the top-streamed Live sports event. Hulu viewers really do enjoy their sports content!

The top 5 most watched non-sports and non-news related Live shows our viewers tuned into were Wheel of Fortune, The Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, Jeopardy and The Simpsons. The Oscars, which aired February 9th, especially piqued our viewers’ interests and was the largest non-sports and non-news single event that they watched.

Binge On!

Who doesn’t love a good binge session? From March through May alone, overall binge hours on Hulu were up 61% YoY and overall binge sessions were up 44% YoY. Hulu Original content dominated the platform in May, with viewers hunkering down at home to watch Little Fires Everywhere, Normal People, Solar Opposites and The Great. They also enjoyed bingeing Letterkenny and The Handmaid’s Tale.

Outside of our gangbuster Original content, our viewers kicked back and binge watched shows like American Dad!, Law & Order: SVU and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. 

Kids content is also ideal for bingeing (for the young Hulu viewers, of course!). Titles such as The Powerpuff Girls (2016) and Clarence and Chuggington have the greatest share of its hours coming from binge sessions* (approximately ~14%). Work-from-home parents can definitely attest that Hulu is a godsend for occupying young childrens’ attention.

The Medical Dramas that Kept Us Hooked

We’ve looked up to our medical professionals and healthcare workers more than ever during these unprecedented times. Meanwhile, our viewers have been hooked on medical content, with our most watched medical drama being The Good Doctor.

TV Has Your Back

TV is always there for you, whether it’s for background noise or to take a break during the day. The 10-week period between March 15th through May 23rd experienced the largest amount of hours watched per week, peaking during the week of 4/12 – 4/18. In fact, Hulu viewers watched more hours of TV on April 26th than any other single day making it the most streamed day of the year! Some of the most streamed titles that contributed to the record breaking day were SNL at Home (with Brad Pitt hilariously impersonating Dr. Fauci), all 8 episodes of the Hulu Original Little Fires Everywhere, and episode 3 of the ESPN documentary The Last Dance.

Staying Up to Date

News is a top draw for our viewers who have been seeking the latest updates on what’s going on in the world around us. And it’s safe to say that news consumption increased a lot in 2020. News was the #1 genre amongst Live subs this year in terms of minutes watched, as nearly 1 in 4 minutes watched fell into the news category. The Top 3 News programs streamed between March through May were ABC News Live, ABC 20/20 and ABC World News Tonight with David Muir.

Wrapping Up the Year: ‘Tis the Streaming Season

With the holidays around the corner and the year coming to a close, there’s a lot to reflect on. More than ever, we’re especially thankful for content to stream and TV show characters that we can personally relate to. 

While remaining socially distanced, you may find yourself tapping into Hulu’s co-viewing experience, Hulu Watch Party — which can help you stay connected with family and friends by virtually watching shows and movies together all while staying apart. So, before the year ends, don’t forget to add those TV shows and movies that you’ve “been meaning to watch” to your Watchlist and get ready to get your binge on. Here’s to streaming even more content in the new year!

*[Binge defined as a session with playback (hours watched) from at least three episodes of the same series and at least 80% completion for each episode]

  • Source: Hulu Internal, 1/1/20-10/31/20
  • Source: Hulu Internal, Active Users 1/1/20-10/31/20
  • Source: Hulu Internal, Active Users, May 2020
  • Source: Hulu Internal—Active Users & Minutes Watched, March 2020 – May 2020
  • Source: Hulu Internal, Binge Metrics Weekly, Week Ending Mar 10/2019 - Jun 2/2019 vs. Week Ending Mar 15/2020 - May 31/2020.
  • Source: Hulu Internal, Active Users—dMVPD, Jan 2020 – Oct 2020 vs Jan 2019 – Oct 2019
  • Source: Hulu Internal—Minutes Watched, Jan 2020 – Oct 2020 vs Jan 2019 – Oct 2019

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