Data: Netflix’s Most Popular U.S. Titles in April Show Originals Rule TV, But Not Movies

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Cheyne Gateley/VIP

Netflix began to provide daily top 10 lists for the most popular combined TV shows and movies on the service from the end of February; previously the streamer occasionally trickled out the occasional data to tout the popularity of a select few titles. Now the Top 10, which is based on Netflix’s new 2-second sampling metric, provides a consistent albeit incomplete indicator of popularity (total views and time spent are not available).

VIP has taken this a step further. Using daily top 10s throughout April for movies and TV shows in the U.S. compiled by FlixPatrol, which VIP verified matched the combined Netflix top 10 ranking, VIP calculated a popularity score for each title based upon the daily rankings in order to show what were the most popular titles last month.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Tiger King” dominated in TV shows, with only “Ozark” coming anywhere close to the runaway hit’s popularity. Other titles demonstrating strong popularity levels were “All American,” “Outer Banks,” “Money Heist” and “Too Hot to Handle.” One trend that stands out is that, of the 26 titles that made an appearance in the daily top 10s, only four were not Netflix Originals, demonstrating the service has successfully transitioned from a reliance on acquired hits. 

The highest placed acquired title was “Waco,” The Weinstein Company’s mini-series that anchored the launch of ViacomCBS’s Paramount Network in 2018. “Community” (#12) and “The Office” (#14) were two of the acquired titles in the list. 

With “Community” new to Netflix in April, this represents a good coup for the service, even if the deal is non-exclusive and remains available on rival Hulu. “The Office”’s steady position suggests that it will be missed by subscribers when it moves exclusively to NBCU’s fledgling Peacock service at the end of the year.

The story is a little different with regards to movies. Of the 45 titles making it into the daily top 10 most-watched films at least once, only 17 were Netflix Originals. The most popular movie by a considerable margin was “Angel Has Fallen,” with “Code 8” and “Despicable Me” also coming in with a score over 100. Four Netflix Originals did make their way into the top ten, with “Coffee & Kareem” (#4) the highest, followed by “Love. Wedding. Repeat” (#6), “The Willoughbys” (#7) and “Extraction” (#10).

The impact of COVID-19’s near-nationwide April stay-at-home orders was apparent in the most popular movies, with a number of older kids movies highly placed, which is in contrast to the TV shows, which were, “The Boss Baby: Back in Business” aside, not kids-centered titles. Movies also skewed more toward nostalgic picks, with “The Hangover” (#5) the highest placed on the list.

VIP will be updating this analysis on an ongoing basis. The biggest questions for May will be whether “Tiger King” and “Ozark” can maintain a steady, albeit declining, popularity level, and how big new releases such as Ryan Murphy’s “Hollywood” stack up.