It has been quite the year for the streaming services. Fresh from the foothold that COVID allowed them to gain, 2022 seemed to be the most important year for streaming so far. In this excellent roundup of stats, facts and figures, ExpressVPN reveals which shows were the most popular each month, and how several big hitters may have changed the game forever.

As of right now Netflix holds the crown (and The Crown) of Top Streaming Service, and while many of its biggest hits are now firmly in franchise territory, (Bridgerton, Cobra Kai, Stranger Things) it is the new movies and shows that bring in the essential new subscribers.

The Crown seriesThus, Squid Game, the ill-thought out but well received Dahmer, and the recent favourite The Watcher, have all proved that Netflix’s eye is firmly on building up new fans as well as look for the new Tiger King or Bridgerton. It isn’t as easy as shovelling out a new true crime doc (10 episodes with masses of padding) or following up on a previous subscribers win. The second seasons of Making a Murderer and Tiger King barely made a dent in social media coverage, and their lacklustre reception meant those stories would be finished for quite some time. All eyes are on this Christmas’s spin off for The Witcher, Blood Origin which has big shoes to fill.

Likewise who could have seen the success of Squid Game? Well – AppleTV+ were certainly paying attention, as the majority of their shows and original films were exactly that – original. The likes of Surface, The After Party, Bad Sisters, Five Days at Memorial sat alongside the sort-of triumphant returns of Mythic Quest, See and major COVID breakout – Ted Lasso.

It was, however, the six-part, true-life inspired crime thriller Black Bird that broke out the loudest this year. As mirror opposite as possible to the likes of Lasso and Coach Beard, Black Bird saw an impeccable performance by Taron Egerton as Jimmy Keene whose undercover work helps to snare a very dangerous. The jewel in this particular crown however is Paul Walter Hauser, who turns as Larry Hall gives, by this writer’s measure, the greatest performance on the small screen this year.

Disney+ continues to nip at Netflix’s heels this year, with a weak line up of originals necessarily giving way the the titans of franchises under the House of Mouse’s umbrella. Marvel fans saw Moon Knight,  Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk, three new spins on the MCU formula. Star Wars fans too had the long-awaited return of Ewan McGregor in the sadly luck-lustre Kenobi. Thankfully Andor, the Star Wars show that no-one really wanted or cared about, has trodden all over the nay-sayers by being the best piece of new Star Wars since Rogue One.

This leaves the two big fantasy franchises and their respective streaming hosts. HBO/NOW in the UK returned weary viewers to Westeros for the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, while Amazon’s Prime Video made the most of the hoovering of rights to some of the Lord of the Rings properties in the budget-busting look at a pre-ethereal Galadriel in The Rings of Power. Both shows started strongly, fell a little by the wayside along the way before setting out their perfectly honed tease assault leaving fans eager for a second season.

Time will tell which of these is coming back, though with a record-breaking £700odd-million paid out for season one of TROP you can bet there’ll be another trip to Middle Earth for another season of How I Met Lord Sauron coming your way.

What is clear is that, in the year that more people watched streaming services than cable in the United States, Netflix, AppleTV+, Prime Video and their many, many brethren are here to stay. And their campaign for dominance has only just begun.