From 'The Last Dance' to 'Umbrella Academy': Breaking Down Netflix's Summer Highlights

Breaking Down Netflix's Summer Highlights
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Just before the coronavirus prompted stay-at-home orders and a surge in streaming, the platform pulled back the curtain a bit on what viewers are watching with its daily top 10. The Hollywood Reporter dug into the data to see what's been hot.

After remaining tight-lipped about viewership for years, Netflix unleashed a treasure trove of information when it debuted daily top 10 rankings in February.

Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said in April that the lists are "very helpful for people who want to be part of the conversation." They’ve also become crucial to understanding which of the hundreds of titles that come onto Netflix each year are resonating with its 193 million subscribers. So The Hollywood Reporter spent three months tracking the U.S. top 10 list (which combines film and TV titles), focusing on the June through August period when many Americans were at home and streaming because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To determine its overall summer ranking, THR assigned a point value to each ranking on the overall top 10 (from 10 to 1) and added up the totals. Little surprise, Netflix originals — which get prime promotion inside the app — dominated, making up more than two-thirds of the 110 total titles that appeared on the top 10 during the period. TV series reigned supreme, with The Umbrella Academy, 13 Reasons Why and Floor Is Lava each topping the chart for days at a time. Only three licensed titles managed to claim the No. 1 spot during the summer months — erotic thriller 365 Days, romance film The Lost Husband and perennial streaming favorite Shameless.

Though Netflix’s criteria for determining the top 10 is opaque, the list offers insights for a town hungry for streaming data — whether it’s highlighting the surprise popularity of Polish erotica or confirming that viewers will watch a Charlize Theron action flick. Kasey Moore, editor-in-chief of website Whats-on-Netflix, which tracks the top 10 lists, notes of his industry readers, "they’ve said it’s invaluable, because otherwise they’re reliant on hand-selected released numbers."

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.