Why? A late-April report in the Wall Street Journal on new data from Nielson revealed “The Office” and “Friends” to be the most-watched shows on Netflix (the study was conducted over a one-year period from 2017 to 2018). At 45.8 billion minutes watched, “The Office” easily topped “Friends,” which viewers spent 31.8 billion minutes consuming. For NBCUniversal, which is posted to launch its own streaming service, that makes “The Office” very, very valuable.
“Friends” left NBC the year before the network launched “The Office” in 2005. Six years after that show ended, we live in a time with more television options than ever, yet spend more minutes watching old television than anything else. (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “NCIS,” and “Criminal Minds” are also among Netflix’s most-watched shows.)
Does that say more about today’s shows or yesterday’s? With each generation, another generation’s programs are lumped onto the massive and growing pile of options. If the scope of selections feels overwhelming today, imagine what it’ll be like in 20 years. Is our lasting obsession with sitcom reruns a symptom of option paralysis? So overwhelmed with choices, are we defaulting to what we know? Or are they just that good? At that level of viewership, how much impact do these shows have on our culture?