One of the primary knocks on Netflix over the years, in addition to its algorithm-based decision-making and lack of movies from before 1980, has been its traditional lack of transparency.
The company, while its status as a public company requires it to release subscriber numbers and other such data, hasn’t ever revealed exact figures of how many people are watching its shows, or of which shows are the most popular.
Netflix still isn’t doing that, but the company this week began listing something in every user’s menu it hasn’t ever made public before: The top ten shows in each region. The list can also be separated into movie and TV lists.
The company announced the change in a blog post, and launched it this week. As of Wednesday night, reality show Love is Blind is trending #1 in the U.S., followed by the Joan Didion-adapted movie The Last Thing He Wanted, starring Anne Hathaway and Ben Affleck, which has gained major viewership despite horrific buzz out of Sundance and brutal early reviews.
Narcos: Mexico, Locke & Key, and Gentefied, all new-ish seasons of Netflix originals, round out the top five. Pete Davidson’s recently released comedy special, Alive From New York, is sixth, while the long-running series The Office is ninth.
In a blog post announcing the change, the company had been testing the feature for over six months in the U.K. and Mexico.
“When you watch a great movie or TV show, you share it with family and friends, or talk about it at work, so other people can enjoy it too,” Cameron Johnson, the company’s head of Product Innovation, said in the post. “We hope these top 10 lists will help create more of these shared moments, while also helping all of us find something to watch more quickly and easily.”
The feature does not offer actual viewership numbers for the shows and movies, and is more akin to Twitter’s trending column, or perhaps the “most popular articles” features on newspaper websites.
The change is a welcome move towards transparency, although there is one way to imagine it coming back to bite the company. What if this year’s version of The Irishman, or a super-prominent comedy special, fails to crack the top ten? Wouldn’t it be embarrassing for Netflix to drop nine figures on a project, and not have it register as one of the platform’s most popular shows?
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.