We’ve all been finding different ways to pass the time during the pandemic. Some people caught up with old friends over Zoom or finished the books that they’ve been meaning to read for years (Paul Reiser’s complete works isn’t going to read itself), while others watched Friends. So much Friends. Billions of minutes of Friends.
USA Today reports that the NBC sitcom, which ended 17 (!) years, “was the most-watched comedy on broadcast or cable TV, with 96.7 billion minutes viewed, a 30 percent jump from 2019.” For comparison’s sake: Netflix subscribers watched 57 billion minutes of The Office last year (USA Today‘s data, compiled by Nielsen, does not include streaming). In second and third place were The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, although older comedies saw a viewership increase in 2020, too, like The Andy Griffith Show (58.3 billion minutes, up 29 percent), I Love Lucy (9.3 billion minutes, up nine percent), and Good Times (6.9 billion minutes, up 24 percent).
Cable viewers also watched a ton of Urkel:
The growth rate was even larger for some shows with casts that are more representative of the nation’s diversity. Year-to-year viewing of ABC’s Family Matters (1989-1998), which focuses on a Black family, skyrocketed, recording 11.4 billion viewing minutes for a 392% increase from 2019… George Lopez (2002-07), built around a popular comedian of Mexican-American heritage, recorded nearly 11 billion viewing minutes, a 113% jump, while The Bernie Mac Show (2001-06) was up 71% to 3.3 billion minutes.
No wonder every old show is coming back, including, in a sense, Friends.
(Via USA Today)