Nielsen’s weekly streaming rankings run on a Monday to Sunday schedule, meaning shows that premiere on Sunday nights only have their viewership counted for their first few hours of availability. But HBO’s “The Last of Us,” which premiered on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 9 p.m. ET, was streamed for a sizable 223 million minutes in that short timespan.
To put that number in context, 233 million minutes was not enough to make the weekly Top 10 streaming rankings, but it’s more than a third of the viewership of this week’s No. 10 title: the animated children’s show “Bluey,” which was watched for 646 million minutes throughout the entire week of Jan. 9-15.
Additionally, the last time a Sunday-premiering series had such sizable viewership in its first few hours of availability was also an HBO title: “House of the Dragon,” which scored 327 million streaming minutes in its first mention by Nielsen. That “The Last of Us” was only 100 million minutes behind “House of the Dragon” in this measurement demonstrates the significance of the show’s momentum, as the latter had the benefit of being a sequel series to HBO’s wildly popular “Game of Thrones.”
It’s important to note that the 223 million viewing minutes account for streaming on HBO Max only, excluding viewership on linear cable. After the series premiered, Nielsen recorded that 1.1 million viewers had caught the episode on HBO’s linear channel, while Warner Bros. Discovery reported a total of 4.7 million viewers, meaning that almost one-fourth of the episode’s audience is not included in the streaming figure reported by Nielsen.
Though Nielsen’s early measurement of “The Last of Us” is major, it’s not necessarily surprising. The series has already broken records for HBO: It launched as the network’s second-most viewed season premiere in over a decade after “House of the Dragon” (4.7 million viewers) and then Episode 2 (5.7 million) marked HBO’s biggest ever growth from a series premiere. Episode 3 continued to climb (6.4 million viewers), as did Episode 4 (7.5 million), despite releasing during the telecast of the Grammys.
Leading the pack of titles that did make the Nielsen Top 10 during the week of Jan. 9-15 was “Ginny & Georgia” for the second week in a row. In the first full week of availability of Season 2, the series was watched for 2.7 billion minutes.
Jumping to the No. 2 position after charting as No. 7 the week before was “The Walking Dead.” The series concluded its 11th and final season on AMC in November, but Season 11 was only recently added to Netflix, explaining the bump in popularity.
Netflix’s “Vikings: Valhalla” came in third place with 1 billion minutes watched. The series returned for its second season on Jan. 12, meaning the new episodes were available for the last four days the viewing window. Animated preschool series “Cocomelon” came in fourth place with 919 viewing minutes. The series frequently makes the Top 10 chart, though this week’s showing was higher than usual.
“Wednesday” took the No. 5 position with 810 million minutes watched. This is the “Addams Family”-based series’ eighth week in a row on the chart, but the first week that it didn’t manage to cross one billion minutes viewed.
“NCIS” is another oft-rewatched title that makes regular appearances on the Top 10, this week in sixth place with 737 minutes viewed. It was followed by “New Amsterdam,” which is currently airing its fifth season on NBC with episodes also dropping on Peacock, while its first four seasons also live on Netflix. Across the two streamers, the series was viewed for 670 million minutes during the Jan. 9-15 viewing window.
At No. 8 was “Kaleiodoscope” with 648 million minutes watched in its second full week of availability. The limited series is designed so that each of its eight episodes can be watched in any order, changing the story with each possibility — a feature that potentially hikes up its viewership as fans rewatch to try new orders.
Rounding out the bottom of the chart were two other usual suspects: “Friends” with 648 million minutes and “Bluey” with 646 million.
See Nielsen’s list of overall streaming rankings for Jan. 9-15 first, followed by original streaming titles, acquired titles and then films.