Mexico City Netflix has been criticized for years about it’s close-to-the-vest refusal to disclose viewing and audience numbers for its programs. HBO of course likes to chortle about how many watch “Game of Thrones” or “Sopranos” or whatever. Amazon Prime, originally part of the Bezos empire will say how many watch its NFL games, but who can believe their figures anyway. Recently, Netflix released a data dump on all of its shows and how many hours of viewing they had attracted. Hours and viewers aren’t the same number, obviously, but it’s something. They didn’t share more granular detail about the age, gender, or country where these hours were logged, but, I guess, something is better than nothing.
There are a lot of takeaways, some general and some very specific, even personal. One is that the whole critical puffery about our living in an age of “peak tv” seems very overblown. Showrunners might have garnered critical praise, but the audience is still middle-brow. The Netflix numbers may make it even harder for the auteurs to flourish when reruns of the “Gilmore Girls” and “Suits” are amazingly big hitters. I was surprised to see the biggest winner was “Night Agent,” which was definitely an OK show, where admittedly I saw every episode, but was not a hit with mi amor.
A Washington Post television aficionado noted that shows that featured struggling women, zombies, serial killers and the like were very popular, as were South Korean shows. I wasn’t really in this number. Mi companera watched a good part of “La Reina del Sur,” but warned me away from the “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” and sure enough, I watched two episodes, and that was enough for me. Same for “Beef,” which just seemed pointless to me, even though I’m a huge fan of some of Ali Wong’s standup shows, which didn’t do so well in general, including Kathleen Madigan, who we find hilarious. My uncle Tom, who sadly passed away this year in Kansas City, was addicted to the South Korean shows, so a lot of their hours may not register as well now that he’s not watching.
At our address, we weren’t so out of touch when it came to the popularity of Latino shows, which often have the right combination of things to keep us up until 10pm, but even there we weren’t really with the crowd. “Queen of Flow” was big with mi companera, but nada to me. We were with the crowd watching “El Chapo” and not only “Narcos,” but to tell the truth almost any version that might be like “Narcos.” When we traveled through Sinaloa country last year, we felt strangely at home in these cities.
It turns out now when I’m reading the topline shows, as reported by various sources, at our home address we don’t seem anywhere near the mainstream of popular viewing culture around the world, which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise. We specialize in noir crime shows from the UK, France, and all of the Scandinavian countries, yes, even Iceland. There was mourning when we read that “Spiral” has had shot its last season, for example.
Where we were part of the crowd was in finally being forced to actually subscribe to Netflix. We were very happy using our son’s password, but are now some of the millions that pay the piper, so how about more of what we like, you Netflix bosses?
Or, do us a real big favor and watch our favorite show of the year, “Top Boys” on Amazon Prime, and try to do something like that. Bring back Sully in some miraculous way, and if you can’t do that, then “say less.”