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Netflix Analysis: TV Tops Movies, Popularity Fades Quickly

Lauren Forristal

Netflix launched its website titled Top 10 last year to give viewers an idea of which titles were favorites among all subscribers across the globe. When analyzing these lists, Lucas Shaw, Yasufumi Saito, and Adrian Leung from Bloomberg gathered data to get a sense of what works on the platform, where it works, and what it means.

When analyzing every top 10 list dating back to late June, things began to become more clear. First off, TV is dominant over Netflix’s movies. Secondly, Netflix hits don’t stay on top for long. Other findings include the increasing popularity of foreign-language TV; the biggest suppliers of Netflix hits are the U.S., South Korea, and Europe; and the same library of titles are all successful in North America, Latin America, and Europe.

Every Tuesday, the company releases four weekly lists of what the “world is watching on Netflix.” The lists are divided into four groups Films (English), Films (Non-English), TV (English), and TV (Non-English). Each list will display the number of hours each top-ranking TV show or movie was watched as well as how many weeks the title has been in the top 10 list. You can also look at the top 10 list in your country. So far, there are 91 countries where Netflix allows access.

To give you an idea, here are a few of the global Top 10 lists for the week of February 28 - March 6, 2022.

  • The Weekend Away

    March 3, 2022

    When her best friend vanishes during a girls’ trip to Croatia, Beth races to figure out what happened. But each clue yields another unsettling deception.

  • Against the Ice

    February 10, 2022

    In 1909, two explorers fight to survive after they’re left behind while on a Denmark expedition in ice-covered Greenland.

  • Tyler Perry's A Madea Homecoming

    February 25, 2022

    Madea’s back - hallelujer! And she’s not putting up with any nonsense as family drama erupts at her great-grandson’s college graduation celebration.

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

    December 6, 2018

    Miles Morales is juggling his life between being a high school student and being a spider-man. When Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk uses a super collider, others from across the Spider-Verse are transported to this dimension.

  • Shrek 2

    May 19, 2004

    Shrek, Fiona and Donkey set off to Far, Far Away to meet Fiona’s mother and father. But not everyone is happy. Shrek and the King find it hard to get along, and there’s tension in the marriage. The fairy godmother discovers that Shrek has married Fiona instead of her Son Prince Charming and sets about destroying their marriage.

  • The Tinder Swindler

    February 2, 2022

    Posing as a wealthy, jet-setting diamond mogul, an Israeli conman wooed women online then conned them out of millions of dollars. Now some victims plan for payback.

  • Shrek

    May 18, 2001

    It ain’t easy bein’ green — especially if you’re a likable (albeit smelly) ogre named Shrek. On a mission to retrieve a gorgeous princess from the clutches of a fire-breathing dragon, Shrek teams up with an unlikely compatriot — a wisecracking donkey.

  • Just Like Heaven

    September 16, 2005

    Shortly after David Abbott moves into his new San Francisco digs, he has an unwelcome visitor on his hands: winsome Elizabeth Martinson, who asserts that the apartment is hers — and promptly vanishes. When she starts appearing and disappearing at will, David thinks she’s a ghost, while Elizabeth is convinced she’s alive.

  • Despicable Me 2

    June 26, 2013

    Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a powerful new super criminal.

  • Battleship

    April 11, 2012

    When mankind beams a radio signal into space, a reply comes from ‘Planet G’, in the form of several alien crafts that splash down in the waters off Hawaii. Lieutenant Alex Hopper is a weapons officer assigned to the USS John Paul Jones, part of an international naval coalition which becomes the world’s last hope for survival as they engage the hostile alien force of unimaginable strength. While taking on the invaders, Hopper must also try to live up to the potential that his brother, and his fiancée’s father—an Admiral—expect of him.

  • Vikings: Valhalla

    February 25, 2022

    In this sequel to “Vikings,” a hundred years have passed and a new generation of legendary heroes arises to forge its own destiny — and make history.

  • Inventing Anna

    February 11, 2022

    A journalist with a lot to prove investigates the case of Anna Delvey, the Instagram-legendary German heiress who stole the hearts of New York’s social scene – and stole their money as well.

  • Pieces of Her

    March 4, 2022

    An act of violence rocks a sleepy Georgia town as well as the bond between a mother and her daughter.

  • Worst Roommate Ever

    March 1, 2022

    Violent con artists. Stone-cold killers. These terrifying true stories unveil some of the worst cohabitation experiences one could ever imagine.

  • Love Is Blind

    February 13, 2020

    Nick and Vanessa Lachey host this social experiment where single men and women look for love and get engaged, all before meeting in person.

  • One of Us Is Lying

    October 7, 2021

    The story of what happens when five high schoolers walk into detention and only four make it out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

  • jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy

    February 16, 2022

    The lives of an emerging superstar and a filmmaker intertwine in this intense, intimate docuseries charting Kanye West’s career, filmed over two decades.

  • The Cuphead Show!

    February 18, 2022

    Follow the misadventures of the impulsive Cuphead and his cautious but persuadable brother Mugman in this animated series based on the hit video game.

  • Sweet Magnolias

    May 19, 2020

    Lifelong friends Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue lift each other as they juggle relationships, family and careers in the small, Southern town of Serenity.

  • Ozark

    July 21, 2017

    A financial adviser drags his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, where he must launder $500 million in five years to appease a drug boss.

The top non-English films for this particular week were “Restless” in first place with 26,030,000 hours viewed, “The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure” in second, “Chernobyl 1986” (3rd), “Through My Window” (4th), “Love Tactics” (5th), “Meskina” (6th), “A Woman With No Filter” (7th), “My Wonderful Life” (8th), “UFO” (9th), and “Valentina's Wedding” in tenth place with 2,440,000 hours viewed.

The top 10 non-English TV shows were “Juvenile Justice,” “Café con aroma de mujer,” “All of Us Are Dead,” “Back to 15,” “Twenty Five Twenty One,” “The Fame Game,” “Forecasting Love and Weather,” “Midnight at the Pera Palace,” and “Thirty-Nine” and “Dark Desire” was in last place for its second season.

Now let’s get into the data.

When adding up all the viewership across all four top 10 lists every week (starting from late June 2021 to February 27, 2022), TV shows account for about 75% of viewing. Mind you TV shows are longer than movies so since the lists are compiled based on the number of hours watched, it makes sense as to why TV shows tend to stay in the top 10 a lot longer. For example, “Sex/Life” cemented its place on the list for a total of seven weeks. Alternatively, “Fatherhood,” the top movie in Netflix’s first list, disappeared after just three weeks.

Which brings us to the next argument: the average Netflix hit disappears after two weeks or less.

Unlike HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Paramount+ with their weekly release model, Netflix is known for having customers that prefer to binge-watch rather than wait seven days for a new episode.

Also, talent (and their representatives) have said that Netflix hits don’t have the same staying power or cultural relevance of those on other services. According to the data, the average Netflix top 10 show only stays there for a week or two. Less than one-quarter of all shows stay in the top 10 for more than a month.

So while hit shows get a ton of viewership in those first few days, the total viewership tends to peak in week 2. That also means the average show is kicked out of the top 10 within 10 days.

Moving on to foreign TV, the data is indisputable that people spend way more time watching international hits like “Lupin” (French), “La Casa de Papel” (Spanish), and “Squid Game” (Korean) than English shows. While a lot of the data is skewed by “Squid Game” taking off six or so months ago, Netflix has invested a lot in foreign-language programming and continues to deliver global hits in any language.

Now that the majority of its customers live outside the English-speaking world, we will start to see more shows in other languages outdraw shows in English.

On the film side, however, foreign language hits are seldom to none. The platform has only released one or two foreign language original movies that garnered a big audience in the last eight months. “Blood Red Sky” was the biggest hit, but it’s still small compared to Netflix’s bigger English-language titles. Across all movies, including originals, there have been no global hits for foreign language films. English-language movies account for approximately 80% of the most favored movies on the streaming service.

In spite of this, Shaw and his team found that the biggest Netflix hits typically come from South Korea, Europe, and of course, the U.S.

Outside the United States, South Korea is the single biggest supplier of popular programs on Netflix, followed by the U.K. (which just increased its prices). As a continent, Europe is considered the biggest supplier of all. Along with the U.K., France, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, all contribute popular titles (Poland and Hungary are only in the top 10 because of “The Witcher”).

In addition, Spanish is the most common language of top 10 shows (aside from English), and is likely the second most common language among Netflix viewers. Spain is the leader of all Spanish-language countries, but Colombia isn’t far behind thanks to shows like “The Queen of Flow,” “Newly Rich, Newly Poor” and “Yo soy Betty, la fea” (the original “Ugly Betty”).

Shows that have remained in the top 10 for the longest are “Squid Game” which is No. 1, followed by another South Korean show, “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha,” then the Brazilian telenovela “Carinha de Anjo” and two shows in Spanish. “Maid” is the only TV show in English to crack the top 10. Not a surprise, this list is dominated by foreign-language TV.

Next up— how do the popular shows in Netflix’s biggest markets compare to the global top 10? Well according to Shaw, “If you can make it in Brazil, you can make it anywhere.”

That being said, Netflix shows are hits all over the world, no matter the language. In terms of overlap, all of the biggest Western markets have overlapping taste.

German shows find themselves being watched by audiences in India whereas South Korean series are popular in Colombia. Also, “Squid Game” is at the top of the charts in the U.K., Germany, and France. Another South Korean show, “Crash Landing on You,” is the top show in Japan.

Interestingly enough, Brazil has a bigger overlap with the global rankings than the U.S. does each week. This suggests that taste in shows in Brazil either mirrors the global population, or “Netflix has cleared more of its top shows in that market,” wrote Shaw.

This is somewhat true for the data that Bloomberg didn’t cover. In the week February 28 - March 6, 2022, Brazil had five of the same English films in its top 10 as well as two non-English movies. However, it only shared two English TV shows and one non-English.

Asian markets are the most different, being that the shows that are popular in Japan, South Korea, and India aren’t popular elsewhere, except for a couple. Bringing us to the last point— Asia is going to be a challenge for Netflix. Even though its content can satisfy audiences across North America, Latin America, and Europe with more or less the same library of titles, it’s going to have to work a lot harder to succeed in Asia.

Netflix

Netflix is a subscription video streaming service that includes on-demand access to 3,000+ movies, 2,000+ TV Shows, and Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, Squid Game, The Crown, Tiger King, and Bridgerton. They are constantly adding new shows and movies. Some of their Academy Award-winning exclusives include Roma, Marriage Story, Mank, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Netflix offers three plans — on 1 device in SD with their “Basic” ($9.99) plan, on 2 devices in HD with their “Standard” ($15.49) plan, and 4 devices in up to 4K on their “Premium” ($19.99) plan.

Netflix spends more money on content than any other streaming service meaning that you get more value for the monthly fee.