The Top 15 Streaming Shows of 2021

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The parade of viewers dumping cable TV for internet streaming services continued during 2021. American viewers streamed nearly 15 million years’ worth of content over the course of the year, according to Nielsen, an information, data and market measurement firm.

Nielsen notes that four types of programming — mystery, drama, reality and children’s fare — made up the bulk of viewers’ top choices last year. And Netflix shows dominate the list of most watched-programs, taking the top nine spots among viewer favorites.

For 2021, these were the most popular original streaming options. All shows are from Netflix, unless otherwise noted:

  1. Lucifer
  2. Squid Game
  3. Great British Baking Show
  4. Virgin River
  5. Bridgerton
  6. You
  7. Cobra Kai
  8. The Crown
  9. Longmire
  10. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
  11. Outer Banks
  12. Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
  13. Maid — 2021 Series
  14. Wandavision (Disney+)
  15. The Witcher

Nielsen also noted the most popular programming in other categories. The top three most popular acquired programming options were “Criminal Minds,” “Cocomelon” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” All three were available for streaming on Netflix.

The top three most popular streaming movies were “Luca (2021),” “Moana” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.” Each movie could be streamed on Disney+.

America obviously loves Netflix. But it is not your only streaming option. There are many other options that may be cheaper or include programming unavailable on Netflix, as we point out in “8 Streaming Services That Are Cheaper Than Netflix.”

Some of those options include:

Some services even offer their fare for free. For more, check out “17 Streaming Services That Are Completely Free.”

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