70% of Netflix’s Top 10 Titles Over First Month of Daily Lists Were – Surprise – Netflix Originals

“Tiger King” and “Love is Blind” are no-doubt hits for the streamer, but under-promoted films like “The Last Thing He Wanted” raise eyebrows

It appears that the most popular content on Netflix is… the streamer’s own original productions.

Netflix took a (small) step toward revealing its users’ habits when it launched a new “Top 10” feature in February, allowing  subscribers to see what the most-popular TV series, movies and overall titles are each day in their country.

These new Top 10 lists at least give off the illusion that Netflix is being more transparent. But the streaming service is still the gatekeeper of this information and calculates it based on its own methodology. These rankings don’t include any actual viewership data — which is par for the course for Netflix — but they do offer us more information than ever before regarding what people are watching on the platform on a regular basis.

TheWrap has tracked every show and film that Netflix has put on its Top 10 lists since they launched and found that, surprise, most of it is Netflix-created content.

Between Feb. 24 and March 24, 70% of Netflix’s “Top 10 in the U.S. Today” titles were a combination of the streaming service’s original shows and movies. Just looking at the TV side, that number jumps to 84%. For film, it sinks to 27%.

Getting more specific here, we broke down the data to show you the biggest hits on Netflix — ranked by number of days the title landed at No. 1 on the most-popular TV series, movies or overall lists — through the first month that the Top 10 feature was available.

You can see how many different titles appeared in the top spot, and how many days it hit No. 1, below:

TV
“Love Is Blind” (Netflix original) – 10 days
“The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” (Netflix original) – 7
“On My Block” (Netflix original) – 6
“All American” – 4
“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” (Netflix original) – 2
“Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” (Netflix original) – 1

Movies
“Spenser Confidential” (Netflix original) – 18
“Angry Birds Movie 2” – 8
“The Last Thing He Wanted” (Netflix original) – 4

Overall
“Spenser Confidential” (Netflix original) – 7
“Love Is Blind” (Netflix original) – 6
“The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” (Netflix original) – 6
“On My Block” (Netflix original) – 4
“All American” (Netflix original) – 4
“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” (Netflix original) – 2
“Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” (Netflix original) – 1

Looking beyond that first-month window, “Tiger King” has held the top spot on both the TV and overall lists for 17 days in a row and counting, giving it the longest streak on both charts. Speaking of streaks, “Spenser Confidential” was No. 1 in film for 18 straight days from March 7 (it debuted on March 6) through March 24, the longest record for a title on any list.

Netflix did not respond to TheWrap’s request for an interview for this story.

Netflix has long been criticized for keeping its viewership data under lock and key, even to some of those who work on its films and TV shows. The company only releases carefully-curated data when it deems necessary. This criticism comes from fans too, who wonder why their favorite shows — “Tuca and Bertie” and “One Day at a Time” are two recent examples — get canceled and others do not. When a broadcast network like NBC cancels a show, it can point to poor ratings that everyone can see; whereas, Netflix essentially tells its customers to take them at its word.

The way Netflix says it counts a view — watching just 2 minutes of a show or film — is the basis for how it creates these daily Top 10 lists and its far different from industry standards for tabulating viewership data. While the streaming company says that two minutes of viewing is all it needs to decide that someone intentionally made a choice to watch something, it is still a small sample size.

While that’s one thing to keep in mind when looking at the Top 10, another is that there is so much content on Netflix and the streaming service curates what it puts out in front of its viewers and prominently places its own new titles at launch.

So even though the streamer’s new docuseries “Tiger King” — the story of an eccentric Big Cat park owner involved in a murder-for-hire plot against his rival is better than most Hollywood scripts — may have catapulted to the top spot on its own merits (and stayed there for more than two weeks now), we don’t know how much of an influence its placement on Netflix’s homepage matters.

The same could be said for Netflix original movies like “Spenser Confidential” or “The Last Thing He Wanted.” Both of those films were led by box office mainstays like Mark Wahlberg and Ben Affleck, but did not receive the same level of promotion compared to other big Netflix movies. It’s questionable if those films would have been as popular if they weren’t the first thing that many users saw when they turned on Netflix.

But despite the fact the lists don’t give us any real numbers, they do give us the best kind of peek we’ll get into the viewing habits of Netflix’s massive user base — including what non-Netflix titles they watch the most.

It won’t surprise anyone to see that “The Office” made the Top 10 list for TV pretty much every day, but The CW’s “All American” also gets a ton of viewership (and that goes a long way to explaining why the network renews the low-rated drama, which it has said before performs well on Netflix). In fact, “All American” was the only non-Netflix title to take the top spot in TV since Netflix launched this new initiative.

The film list was more esoteric, with movies like “Angry Birds 2” and “Space Jam” appearing frequently, as well as out-of-season holiday movies like “The Grinch” and “A Bad Moms Christmas.”

Also affecting these rankings was the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, with movies like “Outbreak” and “Contagion” and Netflix’s own docuseries “Pandemic: How to to Prevent an Outbreak” landing on Top 10 lists as stay-at-home orders were enacted across the U.S.

Jennifer Maas

Jennifer Maas

TV Reporter • jennifer.maas@thewrap.com • @jmaas421

Tim Baysinger

Tim Baysinger

TV Reporter • tim.baysinger@thewrap.com • Twitter: @tim_bays



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