Sitting down to binge on a box set or get lost in the latest Hollywood hit movie has never been easier. Gone are the days of studying the TV guide or heading out on a pilgrimage to Blockbuster. Today, audiences simply have to sit back, select their go-to streaming service, and gorge on the hours of entertainment available at their fingertips.
In fact, it’s fair to say we consumers are truly spoiled for choice, as platforms have begun to hoard new and old content in an attempt to lure and retain subscribers. But as the competition intensifies between streaming platforms to keep viewers coming back for more, the need for new and exclusive content becomes ever more apparent.
This has spawned what many are calling The Golden Age of streaming. Where platforms are investing billions of dollars to create new and original content that viewers can stream exclusively through their service. Whether Stranger Things, Loki, or Squid Game, these iconic shows have come to define the must-see nature of a streaming service’s original production.
But with a host of hot new shows flying the flag for their platform, it got the team at SimpleGhar wondering, which are the most popular titles on each streaming service?
What We Did
We started by collating a list of each and every original production from Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Disney+, and Netflix. With our seed list in hand, the SimpleGhar team delved into Ahrefs web search data to see what viewers were most keen to watch. We then isolated these results by individual countries to see how viewing preferences vary around the globe.
Netflix’s original series Squid Game proved to be the most popular TV show overall, topping search data in 126 countries.
Disney+’s Black Widow is the most searched-for film in 99 countries, proving Marvel’s worth.
CODA came up trumps for Apple TV+, as the most searched-for film in 71 countries.
All-action Amazon original, The Tomorrow War, is the most searched-for film in 61 countries.
The Tomorrow War Pays Dividends on Bumper Budget
Amazon Prime Video can today be considered a trailblazer in the streaming market. First appearing on our screens in 2006, it lays claim to being the first major platform to come to fruition. In the 16 years since, it has grown to be one of the largest platforms available, with over 117 million users enjoying its original content, such as the 2021 blockbuster, The Tomorrow War, which we found to be the most popular film in 61 countries around the world.
Perhaps the secret to Amazon’s success lies in its willingness to invest heavily in its original content. The Tomorrow War reportedly cost $200 million to create, which seems to be money well spent as the film went on to rack up 1.22 billion streaming minutes within the first week of its release in the U.S. alone.
Following The Tomorrow War, Cinderella was found to be the next most popular feature film, topping search data in 12 countries, including Mexico, Spain, and the U.K. With a star-studded cast, including Camilla Cabello and Pierce Brosnan, this film also shows that Amazon’s ambitions are certainly not limited by tight budgets.
CODA Claims Clean Sweep Across Apple TV Viewers
Although Apple TV may be the smallest of the big four streaming services, they seem to have an excellent eye for quality. Typified by the overwhelmingly popular original production, CODA, which came out on top in 71 countries in our study. Perhaps this proves that quality over quantity counts for a lot, as CODA was also awarded Best Picture at the 94th Academy Awards, becoming the first release from a streaming service to take cinema’s crowning glory.
Up until CODA, rival streaming services had been locked in an arms race to achieve such an accolade for an original production. The award had turned into a hotly contested race, with Netflix’s The Power of the Dog and Don’t Look Up providing close competition, marking the 2021 ceremony as a landmark moment for streaming platforms.
While CODA captured the imagination of most Apple TV viewers, five other Apple originals made an appearance in our most searched-for study, including Palmer, Finch, and Cherry, which proved to be most popular in New Zealand, Ukraine, and Belarus, retrospectively.
Disney Eyes Domination Through its Catalog of Franchise Films
Despite arriving late to the party, Disney entered the streaming world with perhaps the most iconic back catalog of films already under their belt. This exclusive offering certainly helped set their service apart from the competition, boasting the latest Marvel releases, such as Black Widow, which stormed our screens to become the most popular film on the platform in 99 countries.
Black Widow was released both in theaters and on the streaming platform simultaneously, leaving millions of viewers clamoring to the service to enjoy the latest installment from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the franchise has made over $25 billion at the box office, it’s perhaps no surprise that the highest-grossing franchise of all time has replicated its success for Disney’s streaming platform.
Other than Black Widow, Disney+ can count on an array of other mighty movies to keep their viewers entertained. From Star Wars to Pixar classics, plus the new contingent of Disney Live Action films, such as Cruella, which was the audience’s favorite film on the platform in 22 countries, including Spain, Mexico, and Japan.
Netflix Boasts the Most Competitive Collection of Feature Films
In recent years, Netflix has embarked on a mission to level up its original content in the hope of achieving critical acclaim and cementing its status as the most popular streaming platform. Over the last year, we’ve seen releases such as The Power of the Dog and Tick, Tick…Boom lead the charge in Netflix’s quest for greatness. However, it was Don’t Look Up that stole the show, becoming the most searched-for film in 42 countries.
The Oscar-nominated film saw a limited release in theaters before streaming exclusively on Netflix two weeks later. Once available to stream, the popularity of the film rocketed, smashing Netflix’s viewing records and leaving the films creator, Adam McKay, ‘flabbergasted’ as the release soon became one of the must-see films of the year with over 10 million U.S. households streaming it within the first three months.
Netflix’s range of quality titles ran a close race in our study, with the second most searched-for film being The Red Notice. The star-studded film saw huge popularity in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, as well as swathes of Africa, as the most popular film in 25 countries. We also saw Through My Window generate impressive search volume entirely from South and Central America, as the top film in every nation in the two regions bar Brazil.
Invincible By Name, Invincible By Nature, as Animation Tops Amazon’s Original Productions
Having only premiered its first season in 2021, Invincible quickly rose to prominence around the world as the most searched Amazon Prime original in 62 countries. The adult animation based on the Image Comic of the same name captured viewers’ and critics’ imaginations alike, receiving a colossal score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Amazon has been known to turn to its well-stocked book library to inspire its original shows, with both of the next most searched-for shows being adapted from novels. The Wheel of Time found its way to the top of 13 nations’ search data, while The Boys followed with seven countries, including the U.S., U.K., and France.
Elsewhere in the study, we found that Amazon viewers have more of a tendency to follow geographical productions. With other search topping shows coming up trump in their home regions, such as Indian drama Mirzapur, which ranked highest in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, while Bibi & Tina received the most searches in Germany, where the show originates, as well as neighboring Austria and Switzerland.
Audiences Are Divided Between Apple TV’s Heart-Felt Comedy and Hair-Raising Drama
Having delved into the data for Apple TV+ series, it soon became apparent there was a two-horse race underway for the crown of the most searched-for show. On one side, we found the all-action, dystopian drama See, starring Jason Momoa, while on the other hand, the heart-warming comedy series, Ted Lasso, was also lighting up screens around the globe.
Despite being a close call, the Emmy-winning hit show Ted Lasso proved to be the most popular series on Apple TV+, with 46 nations searching for the show most often. Jason Sudeikis fans won’t have to wait too long for the return of their favorite soccer manager, with the third series reportedly being released toward the end of 2022.
If you prefer TV to have a little more edge, then you’re probably one of the millions of fans worldwide that are glued to watching See. The dystopian drama was the most popular series in 40 countries and is currently in its third and final season on Apple TV+, which the show’s executive producer Jonathan Tropper claims “delivers all the intense drama, riveting action and heartfelt emotion fans have come to expect’.’
Disney+ Viewers Show Their Love for Loki
Back in 2011, Thor hit the silver screen and gave us our first taste of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Ten years and seven Marvel movies later, the God of Mischief has starred in his very own limited series, streaming exclusively on Disney+. From looking at our data map, it’s clear to see the success of this show, as it takes the top spot in 101 countries around the world.
From Albania to Zimbabwe, audiences turned out in force to see the latest antics of Loki, despite being limited to a meager six episodes in the series. Loki fans will be pleased to hear that Marvel Studios have confirmed that the next series is in production and will be returning to Disney+ next summer.
Outside of Loki’s world domination, three other series found their way to the top of the search data in a total of 12 countries. The Mandalorian was the next most popular show, as the most searched-for series in six countries, including Germany, Denmark, and Russia. While fellow Marvel Multiverse shows rounded up Disney+’s most popular shows, with WandaVision claiming the top spot in five countries and Hawkeye being most popular in Jamaica.
Squid Game Rules Supreme Amongst Netflix Subscribers
With almost 2000 TV shows on the platform, Netflix subscribers are spoiled for choice when it comes to sitting back and indulging in a new binge-worthy series. Yet for all the options available at the click of a button, Netflix users seemingly have eyes for one show only, as the Korean hit series Squid Game eclipsed the competition to become the most searched-for show in 126 countries.
Not only did Squid Game dominate search data across the globe, but it also went on to become Netflix’s highest ranking show of all time, amassing 1.65 billion hours of streaming in its first 28 days, as well as receiving 14 Emmy nominations for this year’s award ceremony. Squid Game’s creator Hwang Dong-hyuk recently announced that the writing of the second series is well underway and should be ready to enter production early next year.
Squid Games’ enormous popularity saw it completely overshadow other blockbuster Netflix shows, including Elite, Bridgerton and Stranger Things, whose search data topped the chart in just seven countries combined, with audiences in Russia, Brazil, and Taiwan amongst those who went against the grain.
Every Country’s Favorite Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Disney+, and Netflix Original
The top bosses at each and every streaming platform know content is king. This has led to rival services upping the ante to commission and create the latest and greatest TV and film libraries on the market. But which original productions are audiences most eager to watch?
Streaming Wars Are Set to Continue
As streaming platforms continue to compete to dominate the market, audiences can expect more of the same amazing content we have grown accustomed to. A host of original productions and further seasons of the shows that we know and love have been confirmed to be in the pipeline.
Although services will continue to create must-see series and awe-inspiring films, they may well come at a cost to the consumer. As platforms are reckoning with the lavish expenditure building their empire has a cost, we are already seeing increases in monthly subscriptions and stricter control on password sharing.
Time will tell if this results in a shift in power amongst the top streaming services or will further fuel the competitive edge to be the most popular streaming platform.
To create these tables, we first pulled together lists of all Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Disney+, and Netflix originals from Wikipedia, excluding upcoming shows and movies, as well as reality shows, documentaries, stand-ups, and podcasts. Co-productions and continuations were also discounted.
Then we translated titles to multiple languages using Wikipedia interlanguage links.
Finally, we used the Ahrefs tool to isolate the film with the highest number of monthly searches in each country. We dropped the entries with fewer than 1,000 monthly searches.
We also revised our data for searches where the term could be considered too generic or unrelated. For example, the query “greyhound” was replaced by “greyhound movie” since the original one can also refer to the bus company or dog breed.
The data was collected in June 2022.