×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Netflix Turning Too Blue? Republicans’ Perception of the Brand Has Dropped, Data Shows

Hollywood’s left-leaning politics has made the industry a bête noire among conservatives for decades. But Netflix has made some recent moves that have especially rankled Republicans.

In March, the streamer named Susan Rice — former national security adviser to President Obama, and a conservative target in the Bengazi scandal — to its board of directors. Last month, Netflix officially announced an exclusive multiyear deal with the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions for original programming. And last week, it premiered “The Break with Michelle Wolf” — a late-night-style show from the comedian who delivered a blistering takedown of the Trump administration and other conservative politicos at the White House Correspondents Association dinner.

Thousands of right-wingers have taken to social media to express their unhappiness with Netflix’s left turns. They’ve condemned Netflix, announced they have dropped the streaming service, and urged like-minded folks to also cancel.

How much has Netflix alienated the right? New data from YouGov, a brand-perception research firm, indicates that Netflix’s positive-impression rating among Republicans in the U.S. has drifted down 16% from the beginning of 2018 through May 31, according to data from YouGov’s BrandIndex. At the same time, Netflix’s approval rating with Democrats has risen 15% over the same time period (see chart, below).

That said, Netflix maintains a relatively high favorability rating — even among Americans who identify as Republicans. YouGov BrandIndex’s Impression survey measures overall perception on a scale of -100 to 100, and Netflix is in firm positive territory across the political spectrum.

Indeed, Netflix is the No. 2 most popular TV network overall tracked by YouGov (based data from Nov. 10, 2017-May 28, 2018), ranking behind only Discovery. For 2017, Netflix had the second-highest average “buzz” score after Amazon, per YouGov’s measurement of week-to-week consumer reactions brands — ahead of Nike, Apple and M&M’s. Netflix also is No. 7 among brands people say they’d be “proud” to work for on YouGov’s 2018 workforce ranking.

All the same, the 21-point differential in Netflix’s brand perception scores as of May 31 between Dems (62.8) and GOP-ers (41.8) on YouGov’s Impression survey is telling.

Netflix declined to comment on the YouGov results. (The company typically does not weigh in on third-party data.)

For now, it’s difficult to definitively gauge the scope of the #CancelNetflix conservative backlash, and whether that will put any kind of dent in its subscriber momentum. Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer — who has personal ties to Democratic figures — has suggested critics wait for the actual content that emerges from the Obamas’ production company before passing judgment.

“This is not The Obama Network,” said Sarandos, speaking at the Paley Center for Media in New York on May 29. “There’s no political slant to the programming.”

The disavowal by Sarandos that the Obamas will not produce content with a political agenda has not gone over well with conservatives who harbor an intractable enmity toward the 44th U.S. president.

And Sarandos’ statements are fairly disingenuous. While Higher Ground probably won’t produce a documentary, say, exploring the FBI’s probe of the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia, the content is expected to have a progressive worldview. One idea that’s brewing is for a Netflix show hosted by Barack Obama discussing health care, voting rights, immigration, foreign policy, and climate change, per a New York Times report.

Meanwhile, “The Break with Michelle Wolf,” the weekly half-hour variety/sketch series with new episodes streaming every Sunday, certainly isn’t helping Netflix win over any conservative fans. In her June 3 segment, Wolf delivers this zinger: “Don’t compare Trump to an ape — because that’s rude to apes! Compared to Trump, apes are quite accomplished!”

To put this into perspective, Netflix’s politically charged content is just a tiny fraction of the stuff it pumps out. I’m guessing most customers probably don’t care about the board appointment of Susan Rice — or even know who she is. And through its relationship with the Obamas, Netflix is calculating that the appeal of the ex-First Couple will outweigh upsetting any haters.

Then there’s this important point: Netflix is a global service, operating in more than 190 countries. Barack Obama left office last year with very high worldwide approval ratings: an average of 76% of respondents in 24 countries said he was a good president, according to research firm Ipsos. Asked about Trump, 66% said they believed he would be a bad president.

Pictured above: Netflix’s “The Break with Michelle Wolf”

More Digital

  • hdhomerun roku app

    HDHomerun App Brings Live TV to Roku Devices

    Roku users are getting another way to watch live television with the help of their favorite streaming devices: Silicondust, maker of the HDHomerun TV tuners, has released a beta version of its HDHomerun app for Roku TVs and streaming devices. “We need to start out by saying this is very much a beta product,” the [...]

  • Vox Media

    Vox Media Staff Ratifies First Union Contract, Negotiated by Writers Guild

    Staffers at Vox Media, which includes Curbed, Eater, Polygon, Recode, SB Nation, The Verge and Vox.com, have ratified their first collective bargaining agreement with more than 90% in support. The staffers are represented by the Writers Guild of America East. Vox Media’s 350-member unit began bargaining their first contract in April 2018. The campaign to [...]

  • Joslyn Davis, Lily-Marston - Shared Media

    Clevver’s Joslyn Davis, Lily Marston Launch Their Own YouTube Media Venture (EXCLUSIVE)

    Here’s the latest chapter in the saga of Clevver, the entertainment/lifestyle YouTube network marooned by the shuttering of former parent Defy Media and subsequently snapped up by Hearst Magazines. Two of the principal creatives behind Clevver — Joslyn Davis and Lily Marston — together with Clevver Media co-founder Jorge Maldonado have launched Shared Media, their [...]

  • Money-Diaries-Refinery29

    Refinery29 to Produce Interactive Series Funded by Eko (EXCLUSIVE)

    Refinery29 has been bitten by the “Bandersnatch” bug. The millennial-female-focused digital media and entertainment company inked a pact with Eko, an interactive-video platform developer whose backers include Walmart, to produce several “choose-your-own-adventure”-style series based on Refinery29 content properties. The companies have started development on their first project: an interactive scripted adaptation of Refinery29’s popular “Money [...]

  • Dan Howell

    YouTube Star Dan Howell Comes Out as Gay: 'It Gets So Much Better'

    It’s Pride Month, and popular YouTube vlogger Dan Howell had a message for fans that he’d been working on for a year: “Basically, I’m Gay,” he shared in a video Thursday. In the 45-minute video, Howell discussed coming to terms with his sexual orientation and his thoughts on labels that people use to define themselves [...]

  • Netflix Expands Korean Content Commitment

    Netflix Expands Korean Content Commitment as Industry Deepens

    Global streaming giant, Netflix is expanding its involvement in the Korean film and TV industries by greenlighting several new shows and renewing others. “When we started three years ago, we had a high degree of confidence that Korean drama would work well in Asia, but we had no internal metrics of our own,” Korean content [...]

  • Instagram Logo

    Instagram Outage: Facebook’s Photo Sharing Service Went Down For Multiple Hours

    Instagram faced another major outage Thursday afternoon, with users from around the world reporting that they weren’t able to access Facebook’s photo sharing service via its app and website. An Instagram spokesperson told Variety around 5pm PT that the issue had been resolved: “Earlier today, a technical issue caused some people to have trouble accessing [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content