When lockdowns confined Americans to their homes during the pandemic, video games and streaming became popular ways to stave off boredum. Around the time people panic-purchased toilet paper last year, new shows like Tiger King became enormously popular. Throughout the crisis, however, viewers sought comfort in nostalgic comedy shows, resulting in old classics enjoying a resurgence. Nielsen reported that people in the U.S. watched 1.3 trillion minutes of comedy programs across national television in 2020. While that marks a 9 percent decline in the comedy drama, Nielsen found that many viewers turned to tried-and-true comedy shows when they needed a break from reality.
One show proved particularly popular with viewers last year - Friends. Amcericans watched nearly 97 billion minutes of Friends in 2020, according to Nielsen, making it the most popular comedy program of the year. Even though the overall comedy genre dipped, Friends experienced a 30 percent increase in minutes watched compared to 2019. With 58 billion minutes watched, the Andy Griffith Show came second in Nielsen's ranking while Roseanne came third with 20 billion minutes watched. Family Matters experienced the largest growth at an impressive 392 percent while regional data indicates that Pittsburgh was the area that binged the most content with viewers averaging 126 hours of comedy in 2020.