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‘Stranger Things’ found to be Netflix’s second most popular show – and #1 is pretty surprising

Published Jul 16th, 2019 8:35AM EDT
Netflix Most Popular Shows
Image: Netflix

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Stranger Things debuted on Netflix three years ago this week, and unless you’ve been living under a rock you’re probably aware that it’s exploded in popularity in a big way since then. In fact, when respondents to a new survey were asked to list their favorite shows on the streaming platform, it ended up being one of the two most popular choices. Out of everything on the service.The only show that was listed higher on this user ranking of favorites as part of a MoffettNathanson-commissioned poll conducted by HarrisX is Orange Is the New Black, which wound up in the number 1 spot.

Just to be clear — that poll actually found that both Stranger Things and OITNB are actually more popular than some of the licensed shows on Netflix you might have expected to rank at or near the top of the list. Shows like Friends and The Office, both of which are unfortunately rolling off the service soon. Those NBC chestnuts from the golden age of appointment TV, instead, round out the bottom of the list of users’ top 10 favorite shows on Netflix, with the HarrisX poll findings including both originals and licensed content.

Orange Is the New Black Image source: Netflix

Here’s how the poll results actually shake out (and we can already hear some of you groaning in disagreement at some of these entries). We mentioned already that OITNB and Stranger Things are #’s 1 and 2. The rest of the top ten favorites, starting with third place, are as follows:

  • For the number three slot, users just said “movies” in general
  • Ozark
  • Grace and Frankie
  • Black Mirror
  • Lucifer
  • The Crown
  • The Office
  • Friends

There’s also a huge caveat it’s important to point out here by way of putting these admissions of favorites into context. They’re just that — admissions. They’re not the same thing and don’t match up to time spent actually watching content. Part of the reason why that’s the case is the apples-to-oranges nature of these comparisons. You can say Stranger Things is your favorite thing to watch on Netflix. But there’s a lot more of Friends to actually watch, for example, since it has 236 episodes compared to Stranger Things, which has 25 through the first three seasons.

That’s why Netflix analyses defy being put into simple, easy buckets. People often only look at one piece of the picture, instead of the whole — though they’re all certainly important. It’s important to know these user preferences above, for example, just as it’s important to know that Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings, per a Variety report, actually ranked The Office as the number 1 show on Netflix for 2018 on the basis of minutes streamed. That’s followed by Friends, Grey’s Anatomy and NCIS. (Presumably, you see the pattern there — those shows obviously crush it on the basis of time spent viewing them because there’s a ton of episodes of all of them to, you know, view on Netflix).

While much has been made about the imminent departures of Friends (which is leaving Netflix next year) and The Office (leaving in 2021), these poll results include what’s arguably a silver lining. The poll includes mentions of 99 Netflix shows, and a whopping 51 of the favorites were Netflix originals. Users picked 42 licensed shows as their favorites. Again, you’d expect that, since licensed shows seem to be rolling off of Netflix with greater frequency — but at least users aren’t too clingy about the licensed shows that remain.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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