It’s like our grandpappy always told us, when he was out there spinnin’ yarns, deep down in his cups: Nobody ever went broke letting the American television viewing public look at serial killers getting caught. Hence a bit of data that we have to imagine the folks over at Netflix feel somewhat ambivalent about today, as Nielsen reports—via THR—that the single most successful streaming property in the United States over a period a few weeks back was…Criminal Minds. As in, 16-year-old serial killer procedural Criminal Minds. As in, 984 million minutes of Criminal Minds, streamed in a single week, in a single country. (That’s 74,000 time through the entire 324-episode series, for those of you keeping track.) That’s a whole lot of unsubs!
On the one hand: Hooray! Netflix, through its steady acquisition of licensed content, has once again triumphed in the streaming wars. (Disney Plus barely even cracks the chart, with WandaVision coming in way down the list at a meager 431 million minutes.) On the other, though: Huh! Because it’s not like Netflix—who famously shells out a lot of cash for original properties like second-place finisher Bridgerton (936 million minutes viewed—owns Criminal Minds. Hence why Paramount Plus, which is angling to be the streamer’s next big rival, was presumably so hot and bothered to get the show revived for its own roster, or to put together that The Real Criminal Minds docuseries that it snapped up earlier this week. And, just from a creative standpoint, we have to imagine that being steamrolled by a massive vault of victims and murderers like this has to be a little sleepy-making for anyone pushing to raise the bar on streaming TV; why try, when Criminal Minds will always be there—always—to be the most-watched thing around?
There is one important caveat to all this: Netflix, like most of the streaming services, continues to discount Nielsen’s numbers, which reportedly focus almost entirely on programs streamed to TVs, rather than mobile devices. (Nielsen only began releasing its streaming numbers publicly late last year.) So, hey: Maybe there’s some huge cadre of viewers who are streaming All The Good Stuff on their phones, leaving the rest of us to our—Jesus Christ—1,872 years of Criminal Minds streaming on U.S. TVs every week. Goddamn: Maybe grandpappy had a point.