Three Surprising Facts About Your Favorite Netflix Originals

Netflix Originals


It’s no secret that Netflix has grown from an online DVD subscription service to a production company churning out hundreds of its very own (award-winning) shows. But what has remained largely a mystery is its audience. The platform is notorious for being tight-lipped about everything from data about its average viewers to the success rates of particular shows. 

The numbers that are public knowledge are astounding. In 2011, the service had less than 23 million subscribers. But by 2018, Netflix had more than 130 million accounts — a number that only includes actual subscribers and doesn’t take into account the fact that families (or friends) will often share accounts. Its popularity isn’t just limited to the U.S. either. It’s estimated that more than 37 percent of the world’s internet users use Netflix, while nearly 60 percent of adults in the U.S. have a Netflix subscription.  

Netflix Originals and their Showstopping Success 

Part of the company’s success has been its dedication to producing its own content; something it didn’t actually start until 2013 when it released what would become award-winning originals House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Since the release of those two shows, Netflix has churned out more than 700 original series, and spent more than $10 billion on the production of original content alone in 2018. 

Those numbers are particularly remarkable when you look at the entirety of the platform’s offerings. A mere eight percent of the content on Netflix is original, yet some of these shows (and movies) are actually some of their most watched content overall. But even Netflix can’t have it all. After rumors that the TV show Friends would be removed from the streaming service, Netflix paid an astonishing $100 million to keep the show for 2019.   

What You Didn’t Know About Netflix Originals

You might be a binge-watching expert, but that doesn’t mean that you know everything there is to know about the streaming platform’s original content’s success. Here’s the breakdown on Netflix’s newfound success of original content:   

Original content dominates state-by-state viewership.

Since the start of its original content production in 2013, Netflix’s originals have grown to be some of the most popular shows watched on that platform. A study by tracked the state-by-state viewing habits of subscribers and reported some surprising results. 

In 2013, and at the same time as the birth of binge-watching, only 19.6 percent of states had a Netflix original in the most watched slot. That year, House of Cards, Sons of Anarchy and The Originals were the top three shows that generated the most buzz on the streaming platform — with only one of those shows being a Netflix original. But just two years later in 2015, more than 76 percent of states had a Netflix original show in the top slot. Crime dominated the most-watched list with Netflix shows like Bloodline, Daredevil and Narcos and network show The 100. 

By 2018 that number would rise again; this time with a staggering 96.1 percent of states listing a Netflix original as their most viewed show. Alaska (where viewers preferred Grey’s Anatomy) and Wyoming (where they watched Heartland) were the only states that didn’t list a Netflix original as their most-watched show. Otherwise, spooky and otherworldly Netflix shows dominated the most-watched list, including: The Haunting of Hill House, Lost in Space and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.     

Gen Z is the new cool kid on the block — and Netflix is working to woo them. 

Netflix’s recent original shows have shifted away from their early political or social dramas like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black toward shows that feature distinctly younger characters. New shows like √Člite, Sex Education and You all feature characters that are in their teenage years. While that doesn’t mean those shows will only interest teens, it does mean that Netflix is targeting their youngest demographic: Generation Z, which is comprised of viewers ages seven to 22.  

The streaming platform’s courtship with younger viewers was worth the risk of potentially alienating the viewers it does have that aren’t in that demographic. Around 20 million accounts watched the Spanish-language show √Člite within its first four weeks on the site. And Netflix estimated that Sex Education and You would both be viewed on 40 million accounts in the same time-frame. 

Even more interestingly, a recent survey that interviewed more than 8,000 Gen Z-ers found that Netflix was the generation’s fourth favorite brand. The streaming platform outranked conventional networks by a longshot, with not a single network ranking in the top 100. A separate study tracked Gen Z’s viewing habits, and more than 60 percent of respondents cited streaming platforms as their primary television source.      

Original content wins over new subscribers and more awards than its competitors. 

Even though Netflix still hosts widely-viewed traditional network shows like The Office and Friends, subscribers are actually just as likely to sign up for the service to view their originals. More than one-third of users reported that Netflix’s original shows are their most enjoyed content on the site, with more than sixty percent reporting that access to original shows is a critical component of their decision to sign up for the service in the first place.The recent success of Netflix’s original movie Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, is eerily reflective of these statistics. Within the first week of releasing the film, more than 45 million accounts had watched it — roughly one-third of all Netflix subscribers.   

A study by 7Park Data in 2018 also found that the total streaming time of Netflix originals outranks original shows watched on its competitor Hulu’s platform. Netflix originals constituted more than one-third of viewers’ streaming hours in the U.S., and more than 40 percent of new subscribers will watch a Netflix original for their first stream. These numbers are significantly greater than Hulu’s, where a mere three percent of streaming hours are of original content, and only 11 percent of new subscribers watch originals as their first stream.  

Netflix’s original content isn’t just dominating viewer’s most-watched lists either. The platform was nominated for a record 112 Emmy nominations and in 2018; outranking even HBO (which had 108 nominations). Both companies went on to win 23 Emmys.  

Netflix’s ability to create crowd-pleasing original content is undeniable. The streaming platform’s attention to changing viewership and its choice to target a younger demographic has helped to create some of its more popular shows. And despite the wide-range of network shows that the platform hosts, it’s the originals that keeps customers coming back for more. 

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