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Netflix’s Top 10 Most Popular Movies and TV Shows, According to Their Data

Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor walking arm-in-arm in Bridgerton (2020)

Netflix is known nearly as well for its secrecy around how many people are actually watching its shows as it is for being the streaming service to beat as the competition heats up. Whether it’s to figure out why your favorite show was inexplicably canceled in its second season or just to help decide what’s a safe bet to watch tonight, viewership data can be helpful, and we recently got a new look into that information.

Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos, at Vox Media’s Code Conference at the Beverly Hilton today, explained that the company is looking to be more forthcoming with that data. He told journalist Kara Swisher, “We’re trying to be more transparent with the market, and with talent, with everybody,” which makes me wonder if that has anything to do with the frequent outcry over which shows, in particular, the streamer cancels before their time.

Viewership data isn’t everything, of course, as the company has often faced accusations of setting certain properties up to fail in the first place with a lack of marketing, in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to actually finding an audience for them, and there’s something to be said for prioritizing things other than the bottom line when deciding what art gets made. Still, the company’s executives would no doubt find it easier to push back against accusations of bad decisions if the public had some idea of the data they were supposedly basing them on.

Of course, there’s also the matter of what exactly your metrics should be when measuring viewership, and Netflix is apparently partial to the number of accounts that watch at least two minutes of a show or movie within its first 28 days of release. That sounds a bit too much like Facebook’s sketchy video viewership data that led a lot of our industry off a video-fueled cliff for me, but I digress. Sarandos also presented the most popular by overall viewing time. Here’s the data you’ve been waiting for, starting with those two-minute views:

Top 10 Series

Bridgerton, 82 million accounts

Lupin: Part 1, 76 million

The Witcher: Season 1, 76 million

Sex/Life: Season 1, 67 million

Stranger Things 3, 67 million

Money Heist: Part 4, 65 million

Tiger King: Season 1, 64 million

The Queen’s Gambit, 62 million

Sweet Tooth: Season 1, 60 million

Emily in Paris: Season 1, 58 million

Top 10 Movies

Extraction, 88 million accounts

Bird Box, 89 million

Spenser Confidential, 85 million

6 Underground, 83 million

Murder Mystery, 83 million

The Old Guard, 78 million

Enola Holmes, 77 million

Project Power, 75 million

Army of the Dead, 75 million

Fatherhood, 74 million

And now, here’s the list by total minutes watched:

Top 10 Series

Bridgerton: Season 1, 625 million minutes

Money Heist: Part 4, 619 million

Stranger Things 3, 582 million

The Witcher: Season 1, 541 million

13 Reasons Why: Season 2, 496 million

13 Reasons Why: Season 1, 476 million

You: Season 2, 457 million

Stranger Things 2, 427 million

Money Heist: Part 3, 426 million

Ginny & Georgia, Season 1, 381 million

Top 10 Movies

Bird Box, 282 million minutes

Extraction, 231 million

The Irishman, 215 million

The Kissing Booth 2, 209 million

6 Underground, 205 million

Spenser Confidential, 197 million

Enola Holmes, 190 million

Army of the Dead, 187 million

The Old Guard, 186 million

Murder Mystery, 170 million

Surely, no one is surprised to see Bridgerton dominate both charts for series and Bird Box come in at or near the top of movies, nor to see Stranger Things pop up, but there are some things worth noting—first off, that Netflix’s 2-minute rule is apparently how things like Emily in Paris get made and haunt our online lives indefinitely.

However, I guess it’s not all bad when the “minutes watched” favors The Kissing Booth 2 and 13 Reasons Why, which we would definitely trade for any number of other shows Netflix has canceled. Still, it’s nice to see Money Heist show up twice in total minutes, as well as the extra boost for Stranger Things and just a general feeling of more fan favorites than things like, say, Tiger King—to be expected when we’re talking a metric more suited to dedicated watching.

If there’s anything that’s a bit disappointing about the data, it’s the predictability. Spenser Confidential is the only one that really leaves me scratching my head. A top 10 list is fine, but we could have guessed most of it. A top 25 or 50 ranking would be a lot more interesting, but it seems Netflix isn’t quite ready to give us that much insight just yet.

(via Variety, featured image: Netflix)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.