Top 5 Most Popular TV Shows of 2023, Revealed by New Data

By Klein Felt Posted:
Ted Lasso Last of Us Netflix You

New data revealed the most popular TV shows of 2023 thus far.

2023 has brought with it some excellent TV programming, with critical hits like The Last of Us, The Bear, and Ted Lasso as some highlights from the past eight months.

Streaming continues to grow within the television conversation, with a 34.4% share of total TV consumption (as of August 2022). 

Gone are the days of terrestrial cable shows dominating the conversation, with most of TV's biggest hit series coming from the world of streaming. 

Thanks to new Neilsen data (via Bloomberg), the most popular/most-watched TV shows of the first half of 2023 were revealed. 

Here is a list of the five biggest streaming originals of the year so far:

5.) The Last of Us (HBO Max)

The Last of Us HBO

HBO's hit adaptation of PlayStation's The Last of Us blew the doors open at the turn of the new year. The Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey-led post-apocalyptic drama took audiences on an emotional journey across a zombie-infested America, covering the events of developer Naughty Dog's groundbreaking 2013 game.

The Last of Us Season 1 still remains one of the best-reviewed TV shows of the year (sitting at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes) and broke all sorts of records on HBO, becoming the most-streamed HBO Max series of all time in several territories (via Variety).

4.) You (Netflix)

You Netflix

The penultimate chapter of Netflix's You comes in fourth place on this list. You Season 4 followed Penn Badgely's Joe Goldberg as he shed his Jonathan Moore identity and claimed another victim on his twisted quest for love. You is set to return to the streamer for one final season in 2024.

You Season 4 had the benefit of releasing in two batches on Netflix, double dipping into the conversation and boosting viewership numbers. Following the show's Season 4 Part 2 debut, Neilsen data revealed it was streamed for 1.4 billion minutes in just its first days on the platform.

3.) Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)

Ted Lasso Apple
Apple TV+

It still remains unclear if Ted Lasso Season 3 was the series' final chapter, but with even a hint that this was the end, the hit Apple TV+ series enthralled audiences across the world. Season 3 followed Jason Sudeikis' titular peppy football coach and his Premiere League team as he said goodbye to his found family after three years in the United Kingdom. 

The third season delivered record numbers for Apple TV+, with its finale being streamed for 529 million minutes during its first five days on the service. 

2.) The Night Agent (Netflix)

The Night Agent Netflix

One of the biggest surprises of 2023 in TV has been Netflix's The Night Agent. The action thriller series follows FBI agent Peter Sutherland (played by Gabriel Basso) after he uncovers a government conspiracy that involves a potential mole within the White House.

The series debuted at the top of Neilsen's streaming charts back in April, being streamed for 168.7 million hours during its first few days on Netflix, becoming the third biggest premiere week of viewing across Season 1 TV for any Netflix Original, according to Netflix.

1.) Ginny and Georgia (Netflix)

Ginny and Georgia Netflix

Topping the list for 2023's most-watch TV shows so far is another Netflix original in Ginny and Georgia Season 2. The fan-favorite dramedy centers on teenager Ginny and her family as they try to put down roots in a small New England town after years on the run. 

Ginny and Georgia was streamed for more than 500 million hours in its first five weeks on Netflix, becoming one of the top ten most-watched Netflix originals ever (via The Economic Times). 

Key Takeaways From 2023's Biggest Shows

Taking a look at this data, one can start to see how the streaming TV landscape looks in 2023. 

With three of the top five TV shows of the year (and all five of the top five streaming movies), Netflix continues its dominance atop the streaming world. Despite a password-sharing controversy, loss of subscribers, and its stock plummeting, Netflix remained the top player in the streaming-video-on-demand (SVOD) game. 

Another major takeaway here is just how big a deal Ted Lasso Season 3 was. Apple TV+ has largely remained a niche streamer, but the Jason Sudeikis-led comedy has broken through to the masses.

According to analytics research firm Statista, Apple TV+ has roughly 75 million subscribers (as of December 2022), which is just about one-fourth of Netflix's gargantuan 283 million subscriber base.

What is shocking is the fact that one major player in the SVOD world is missing from this list: Disney. No Disney+ series managed to break through and hit the top five most-watched list. 

Lucas Shaw (who penned the Bloomberg Neilsen data report), wrote in his breakdown that The Mandalorian - which debuted its third season on Disney+ in March - was one of the only other streaming TV series to "eclipse 8 billion minutes" watched, yet is on the outside looking in on this top five. 

Given Disney's lackluster year so far and the recent dip in Disney+ subscribers (something that had not happened since the service launched in 2019), this viewership data paints an even clearer picture of just how badly the momentum has possibly shifted at the House of Mouse. 

- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.