Most-watched originals across video streaming services

The era of streaming is upon us. It seems that every day a new streaming service emerges. Still, the big four streaming services, Amazon Prime Video, HBO NOW, Hulu and Netflix continue to remain the most popular. 

Amazon Prime Video launched its very first original series in 2013, and has a large catalog of Amazon originals. It has a total audience of around 96.5 million viewers

HBO NOW came out in 2015, giving subscribers access to a massive original content library. With 8 million subscribers, it’s on the lower end of total users, but that doesn’t take into account viewers who watch HBO in other ways. 

Hulu began creating original programming back in 2011. It has a lineup of over 30 different original series, movies and micro-series. The streaming service is growing quickly and has a subscriber base of 28 million users.

Netflix is the current king of original titles, with over 50 original series and dozens of original movies. Its first breakout hit and original series was House of Cards, which brought over 4 million new users to the service. Netflix has over 150 million monthly subscribers worldwide at the moment.

Your guide to the most-watched originals across services

Amazon Prime

Amazon spends over $5 billion per year on original content, with Prime’s Originals bringing over 5 million new subscribers to the service. Amazon doesn’t publicly report on how it calculates show views. 

These are some of the most-watched shows on Amazon Prime video.


Bosch centers on the day-to-day life of an LAPD homicide detective working to solve the murder of a 13-year-old boy. Season one came out in 2014. In 2019, season five of the show made Amazon’s most-watched list


Hanna follows the story of a young girl who must flee her home to find answers about her background. It was a brand new release for Amazon Prime video and made the May 2019 most-watched list.

Jack Ryan

Jack Ryan is based on the Tom Clancy series. This show follows CIA analyst Jack Ryan as he dives into terrorist organizations the world over. Season one came out in 2018, and over 37 percent of Amazon Prime subscribers watched the series. Viewers can catch Season 2 in late 2019.

Sneaky Pete

Sneaky Pete revolves around a con man and his adopted family. The first season debuted in 2015. Season three debuted in 2019 and made Amazon’s most-watched list the same year.

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle explores the alternative history of an Axis power victory in WWII. The final season comes out in late in 2019. As of 2017, this series had over 8 million viewers in the US alone. It debuted in 2015. 

The Marvelous Ms. Maisel

The Marvelous Ms. Maisel follows the main character as she tries to make a career as a comedian in 1960s New York. Season one first aired in 2017, and the second season came out in early 2019. Since its inception, it has racked up 16 Emmys


HBO NOW currently has around 8 million subscribers. It was one of the first networks to embrace original content. Some of its early original series came out in the 1990s.

HBO NOW doesn’t release streaming and viewership data. But, what we do know is that the network is home to some of the most-watched original shows of all-time

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm is a comedy series created by Seinfeld co-founder Larry David. Like Seinfeld, it’s a show essentially about nothing. The show debuted in 2000, and every one of its nine seasons have shined with humor.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones seems to be everywhere. It’s a character-driven show adapted from the fantasy works of George R. Martin. The series has engrossed viewers since 2011, wrapping up its final season this year. You can currently stream all eight seasons on HBO Now.

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is a comedy about a young tech startup in the Bay Area. The series premiered in 2014 and is currently in its fifth season. 

The Sopranos

The Sopranos is about an Italian mobster and his life in New Jersey. The show spans six seasons, debuting with season one in 1999. Some even name the Sopranos as one of the greatest TV shows of all time. 

The Wire

The Wire made TV history with its unfiltered look into a fictional Baltimore police department. TV critics frequently hail the series as one of the best of all time. It started in 2002 and lasted five seasons.

True Detective

True Detective is a dark detective series that features big-name actors. The first season features Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Season one came out in 2014, with season three hitting screens earlier this year. Each season has an entirely different cast of characters.  


Hulu has over 20 million monthly subscribers, thanks to popular shows like The Handmaid’s Tale.

Hulu counts content as viewed when 10 percent of a show or movie is watched

The service does not provide original content viewership numbers. Below you’ll find some of the most talked-about and critically acclaimed Hulu originals. 

Castle Rock

Castle Rock is a psychological horror series that draws heavily from Stephen King’s fiction. The series takes place in a small town in Maine, where death lurks around every corner. Hulu released the first season in 2018. You can currently stream the first two seasons. 


Catch-22, released in May 2019, stars George Clooney. It’s an adaptation of Joseph Heller’s famous novel. The series follows a US air squadron in Italy during WWII. With its A-list cast, you can expect this series to be around for a while. You can currently stream season one on Hulu.


Letterkenny is a show that’s slipped under the radar since its release in 2016. It’s a comedy that centers around a redneck group in a small town and follows the hijinks they get up to. It’s a simple premise, but one that’s worked for seven seasons now. You can currently stream seasons one through seven on Hulu. 


Pen15 is a cringe-inducing coming of age show that reminds viewers of what middle school was really like. It’s funny, relatable and covers issues that most shows gloss over. Season one, released in 2019, is currently available for streaming.

The Act

The Act received massive media attention when it came out in early 2019. It’s a true-crime story that follows a young girl trying to escape her overprotective mother. Season one is currently streaming on Hulu. 

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale was Hulu’s first breakout success. It’s an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel. The first season earned an Emmy in 2017. It became Hulu’s most-watched show the first week it aired. 


Netflix has one of the largest original content lineups, along with the biggest subscriber base.

It only starts counting views when a viewer watches 70 percent of a movie or show.

Here are the most popular shows currently on Netflix:

Bird Box

Bird Box is a dystopian flick starring Sandra Bullock about a mysterious force killing the population. It brought the streaming network over 80 million views when it released in 2019. This makes it one of Netflix’s biggest streaming movie successes. 

Murder Mystery

Murder Mystery is a new Adam Sandler film about a shocking crime that takes place on a honeymoon. It released in early 2019, and more than 31 million people watched it in the first three days.

Stranger Things

Stranger Things is a Netflix darling. It’s a science fiction mystery series about a group of kids trying to uncover the truth of their friend’s disappearance and the strange happenings in the town. Season three came out in 2019, and 40 million-plus people watched the latest season. The series premiered in 2016.

Triple Frontier

Triple Frontier is a shoot-em-up action romp about a million-dollar heist. It has an A-plus cast, including Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaac. This movie came out in 2018 and netted the service 63 million views

Umbrella Academy

Umbrella Academy is a superhero series about a group of siblings reunited after their father’s death45 million households watched it in the first four weeks of its 2019 release. Production of season two is currently underway.


You is a young adult thriller about a bookstore employee who becomes an obsessed stalker. In the first month of its release 40 million people watched the series.

Is original content changing the streaming game?

Original content is the way of the future for most streaming services. These services have the option to license content or create original programming. It’s a tried and true way to minimize the impact of losing popular, licensed shows. 

Breakout shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime Video and Stranger Thingson Netflix bring in new users. The Man in the High Castle, for example, brought Amazon about 1.15 million new subscribers.

But original content is expensive. Netflix is planning to spend $15 billion this year alone. Rising original content outlays have led to price hikes for US customers.  

The takeaway

Amazon Prime, HBO NOW, Hulu and Netflix have large and growing original content libraries. As time goes on, expect the number of streaming services and total volume of original content to grow—it’s a great feature that lets writers, actors and directors take creative risks to create series and moves that viewers love watching. 

Kevin Wood