Netflix Beats The Last Of Us In The Streaming Wars With One Popular Show

Netflix's dark thriller You beat out HBO Max's The Last of Us to claim the top spot on the Neilsen streaming chart.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

Penn Badgley in You

The streaming wars are in full swing, and new metrics have revealed surprising results. broke down the latest ratings from Nielsen, which revealed that HBO’s The Last of Us was beaten in minutes streamed by the Netflix hit You. While on the surface, it seems that You beat The Last of Us outright, the results may be misleading.

The rating data comes one month behind; the latest numbers measure activity from February 6 through 12. During that time, Netflix users streamed 1.733 billion minutes of You, while HBO Max subscribers viewed 1.109 billion minutes of The Last of Us.

That week, Netflix released part one of You’s fourth season, adding five new episodes to its 30-episode catalog. The Last of Us only released one new episode in that span, its fifth. While most of the You viewership in that week was spent on its new episodes, time users spent watching the show’s first three seasons still accounts for some of those minutes.

The Nielsen data also only looks at streaming minutes. The minutes total for The Last of Us does not include minutes viewed on the HBO cable channel, where it premieres alongside its HBO Max release. With those totals factored in, the viewership gap between The Last of Us and You may not be so wide.

Though The Last of Us has been a massive hit, the apocalyptic drama was HBO’s only representative on Nielsen’s Top Ten for that week in February. Netflix dominated the chart with originals CoComelon and the Ashton Kutcher/Reese Witherspoon rom-com Your Place or Mine

Netflix also showed up big with licensed titles New Amsterdam (also on Peacock), Minions: The Rise of Gru, Grey’s Anatomy (also on Hulu), NCIS (also on Paramount+), and The Walking Dead. Disney+ hit the #4 spot with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Charlotte Richie and Penn Badgley in You

The Nielsen rating data is not the only metric of success for streaming services; the latest numbers lean in Netflix’s favor. The popular streaming service may still be the one to beat, but the competition is more fierce than ever. Everyone and their mother is in the streaming war, and platforms consistently offer quality options to stay competitive.

That competition makes it a good time to be a TV fan, but increased reliance on metrics can be a double-edged sword. Part of what gives a platform like Netflix an advantage over a traditional studio or network is that it does not have to put out projects that appeal to everyone; it just has to appeal to everyone with its variety of projects. That allows the streamer to take more risks on content that may otherwise be too narrow to find a home on a traditional network.

Metrics and data allow streamers to identify their varying audiences and determine their sizes. The trap is the paint-by-numbers approach that builds projects to satisfy analytics rather than actual people. So far, Netflix has managed to keep putting out hit shows, but it has done so with a volume approach. By contrast, HBO has far fewer projects with higher average quality.

Netflix may still be the streamer to beat, but the streaming wars are far from over. As the economics of the entertainment industry continues to shift, streamers will have to alter their strategies. The winner of the streaming wars may not be who grows the largest but the one who best adapts to the changing world.