Data: ‘Borat 2’ Second Only to ‘Hamilton’ in Most Watched U.S. SVOD Movies of 2020

Borat Prime Video
Yinchen Niu/Variety Intelligence Platform

Prime Video’s recent release of “Borat 2” is one of 2020’s most watched movies released on an SVOD platform this year.

That’s according to exclusive data provided to VIP by ScreenEngine/ASI, which surveyed 1,200 U.S. video viewers age 13-64 weekly on which titles they’ve watched in the seven days following their release.

ScreenEngine’s list of the top 30 most watched SVOD movies sees Disney+’s smash-hit “Hamilton” top the list, followed by Prime Video’s pair of “Borat 2” and “My Spy. The strong performances for recent releases “Borat 2” and HBO Max’s “The Witches” suggest that audiences are accepting SVOD-first home releases as du jour.  

In addition to perennial streaming leader Netflix leading the top 30 in terms of total titles (11), Disney+ is the clear number two, with eight movies including the premium-VOD release “Mulan” on the most-watched list. Prime Video has four, while HBO Max and Hulu have two apiece and Apple TV+ one with “Greyhound. 

Much as TV series were revolutionized by Netflix releasing full seasons all at once, the pandemic may be forcing the adoption of new consumer release strategies for films. Certainly, if reports of it taking until 2022 for social distancing to be over, there will remain a proportion of the cinema-going audience who will not risk possible contagion for a theater trip. 

While PVOD releases including Mulan have proved successful, it’s difficult to imagine consumers opening their wallets to the tune of $20-$30 for every movie released. As “Borat 2” and “Hamilton” demonstrate, there is high demand for premium content among SVOD subscribers, boosting the consumer perception of services able to release titles that make their way to the cultural zeitgeist. 

Seeing an SVOD either dedicate itself to premium movie offerings or create a new tier with one big title released a week would not be a surprise given the consumer reaction to big-name content. The success of “Borat 2”, with “Coming to America 2” primed for Prime Video’s next big release in December, suggests this strategy will continue for some time in the age of coronavirus.