What Netflix's New U.S. Top 10 Lists Show Us

Originals and lower-profile licensed content account for many of Netflix's most-watched U.S. TV shows and movies, a good sign for the streaming giant.
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Netflix’s  (NFLX) - Get Report most-watched U.S. content doesn’t appear to include many big-name licensed movies or TV shows.

Following several months of tests in the U.K. and Mexico, Netflix announced on Monday that it will provide customers around the world with top-10 lists for the most popular content within their respective countries. An overall top-10 list will be provided, as will top-10 movie and TV show lists. 

As a Netflix U.S. subscriber, I haven't yet seen the overall top-10 list appear, but I have spotted the movie and TV show lists (for now, they’re buried within Netflix’s “Movies” and “TV Shows” pages). As of the time of this article, this top-10 U.S. TV show list is as follows:

#1) Love is Blind, a dating reality TV series (Netflix original)

#2) Narcos Mexico, a crime drama series (Netflix original)

#3) Locke & Key, a horror drama series (Netflix original)

#4 Gentefied, a comedy-drama series (Netflix original)

#5) Better Call Saul, the hit Breaking Bad spinoff series

#6) Babies, a docu-series (Netflix original)

#7) The Office, the hit sitcom series

#8) The Stranger, a British thriller series (Netflix original)

#9) The Chef Show, a cooking show (Netflix original)

#10) I am a Killer, a docu-series (Netflix original)

And the top-10 U.S. movies list goes as follows:

#1) The Last Thing He Wanted, a political thriller (Netflix original)

#2) The Foreigner, an action thriller

#3) A Haunted House, a horror movie spoof

#4) Girl on the Third Floor, a horror movie

#5) To All the Boys PS: I Still Love You, a teen romantic comedy (Netflix original)

#6) A Bad Moms Christmas, a comedy

#7) Mr. Right, a romantic action comedy

#8) The Other Guys, a crime action comedy

#9) Farmageddon, an animated kids comedy film (Netflix original)

#10) The Grinch, an animated kids comedy film

While top 10 lists only tell so much for a service with a library as deep as Netflix’s, it’s hard to ignore the fact that originals currently account for eight of Netflix’s ten most-watched U.S. TV shows, including its four most-watched shows.

And for both the movie and TV show lists, it’s notable that only a small amount of high-profile licensed material made the cut. Better Call Saul, The Office (set to be pulled from Netflix by Comcast's (CMCSA) - Get Report NBCUniversal at the end of 2020) and The Grinch are the exceptions to the rule here.

At a time when Netflix press coverage makes frequent references to the arrival of new streaming competition (Disney’s  (DIS) - Get Report Disney+ especially) and the pulling of popular licensed shows and movies from Netflix, the top-10 lists serve as a reminder that originals and lesser-known licensed material account for a very large percentage of Netflix viewing.

They also might just be a sign of how Netflix uses its content recommendation algorithms to drive greater viewing of material that it either owns the rights to or which it doesn’t have to pay a lot to license.

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