As the pandemic has dramatically increased the amount of time people are spending at home, streaming services have come into particular focus this year. 

The last 18 months have seen a glut of streaming services launched and expanded, with some high-profile successes and failures. 

We wanted to look into the most written about streaming services, the kind of content that was written about them, and how much it resonated with the public. 

The top streaming services by engagement 

When it came down to which streaming service received the most engagement, there was one clear winner, with Netflix receiving more than 170 million engagements this year so far. 

Histogram of the most engaged streaming platforms in 2020, ranked by engagement

This was a little less than double the amount of engagements that articles about Disney+, its main rival for the title of most engaged, received. The other streaming platforms received relatively little public attention in comparison with third-placed HBO, who launched their new streaming service HBO Max this year, seeing far less engagement than the top two despite significantly outperforming its other competitors. 

This differential partly comes by virtue of the biggest platforms being written about more, though it does not explain it all. 

Histogram showing the most written about streaming services in 2020, ranked by number of articles

Netflix have had roughly 320,000 articles written about it so far this year, with Disney+ being written about just over 180,000 times. Hulu was written about more than HBO Max, despite receiving around half the engagements of the newer platform. 

This means there was a significant gap between the average engagements per article across these. This varied between an average of 100 engagements per article for Quibi, which was the lowest of the group, up to 585 for HBO Max, which was the highest. Netflix’s combination of a high article count and a relatively high average of 528 engagements per article is what made it stand out from its competition. 

But who was actually writing about these platforms? We took a look at the top four by engagement to find out.

The top websites and authors writing about streaming services

Interestingly, when we look at the top sites for each streaming service, we see a relative lack of what might be considered mainstream sites.

Histogram of the most engaged websites writing about Netflix, ranked by engagement

For Netflix, Netflix Life was positioned comfortably at the top with the most engagement, followed by Comic Book, both of which received more than 7 million engagements. This was thanks to articles announcing shows or movies that were coming to Netflix, with the most engaging being about season two of All American. Comic Book took a similar approach, with their top article being about the second season of The Umbrella Academy’s release date being announced.

In terms of the top articles overall for the service, however, it was often more focused on Netflix’s interaction with the non-digital world.

Chart showing the most engaged articles about Netflix, ranked by engagement

The most engaged article came from The Daily Mail, and was about a tangential story to the documentary Tiger King, which was omnipresent in March. Donald Trump said he would look at pardoning Joe Exotic, the subject of the documentary, the reporting of which received 1.5 million engagements. The police reopening the case of Carole Baskin’s missing husband was also highly engaged in Yahoo, with more than a million engagements. 

The most engaged article about a show airing came from Bustle, and was about You being renewed for a third season. The piece saw just shy of a million engagements. 

Comic Book also featured heavily for Disney+, coming out as the top website for the platform in terms of engagements driven.

Histogram showing the most engaged websites writing about DIsney+ in 2020, ranked by engagement

The number for Disney+ was a little lower than it was for Netflix, however Comic Book’s style of articles about the streaming services were very similar. The most engaged, which received more than half a million engagements, was about the plan to release the live action Mulan on Disney+ after lockdown put paid to the idea of a wide cinematic release. Inside The Magic is a Disney-focused blog that came third overall in engagement. 

The top articles overall tended to focus more on releases, in a slight break from what we saw on other platforms.

Chart showing the most engaged articles about Disney+ in 2020, ranked by engagement

The most engaged piece was about Dinosaurs coming to Disney+ in the fall, which received some 1.4 million engagements.

For Hulu and HBO Max, they both encountered more real-world controversy with their articles, thanks to decisions taken by the companies to edit their content.

Chart showing the most engaged articles about HBO Max in 2020, ranked by engagement

HBO Max’s most engaged article, reported by the Daily Mail, was about the decision to remove guns from Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam in future episodes of the show. Their decision to remove Gone With The Wind from their platform received a good deal of coverage and engagement in conservative and mainstream media, combining for more than a million engagements. Friends and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina both received engagement when it was announced they might feature on the platform. 

Hulu’s engagement was driven in large part by their documentary on Hillary Clinton.

Chart showing the most engaged articles about Hulu in 2020, ranked by engagement

The Daily Mail had the most engaged article, focusing on a Bill Clinton quote, while the Daily Wire quoted Hillary Clinton saying she was the most investigated innocent person in America. 

The Handmaid’s Tale drove the highest level of engagement for the service when it came to announcements about shows.

Chart showing the top authors writing about streaming services in 2020, ranked by engagement

The top authors writing about streaming services all tended to be writing about Netflix or Disney+. The top author was Bryce Olin for Netflix Life, while Christian Bone also saw significant success writing about Disney+ for We Got This Covered.

Lauren Fruen was the only one to break the duopoly for subject matter, garnering more than a million engagements writing about HBO Max.

Overall, then, it is clear that Netflix remains the top streaming service in the public imagination, with a number of dedicated sites publishing highly-engaged content about its shows and movies. Newer platforms like Peacock and Quibi have thus far failed to break through in terms of broad coverage and attention, but that may change as they become more established in their own right. 

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Benedict Nicholson

Benedict Nicholson is the Managing Editor at NewsWhip. An Englishman in New York, he is interested in the intersection of PR, brands, and journalism, and the trends and innovation around that.

Email Benedict via benedict.nicholson@newswhip.com.