Netflix's winning strategies: Hits, franchises, and international appeal

26 July, 2023

Image: Wednesday, Netflix


Studios, production companies and creatives can’t reverse engineer an Emmy winner or replicate the magical alchemy that results in a commercial hit every time out. But by studying the DNA of what has worked before — specifically on a genre, IP, and demographic level — it can help provide more informed decision making for future content slate construction.

The graphic is a collection of the most in-demand originals released on Netflix from January 2022-July 2023, per Parrot Analytics. (As a reminder, Parrot’s audience demand metric is comprised of a combination of consumption data, social media engagement, and search queries to follow the consumer journey and the demand multiplier reveals how significantly a title is resonating compared to the average title). 

Netflix, which deliberately attempts to program something for everyone as a multi-faceted four quadrant service, boasts a wide range of successes across the genre spectrum in this timeframe. Its eclectic roster — which spans kids content, comedy, action thrillers and sci-fi/fantasy/horror entertainment — helps ensure a versatile audience demographic profile. Something star-driven and original like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s FUBAR appeals to an older male skewing viewer base, while new series based on pre-existing material such as Monster and The Night Agent are slightly younger-skewing and resonate more with female viewers. 

The market-leading streamer has also recognized what the rest of Hollywood has always known: franchises (or proven on-screen hits that generate multiple entries) elicit recurring interest. Continuations or expansions of existing franchises (Wednesday, Queen Charlotte, XO Kitty, The Witcher Blood Origin, Vikings Valhalla) are among Netflix’s best premieres in this time frame. Building out familiar IP helps ease audience buy in as viewers are more likely to sample a series connected to a brand they already enjoy. This can also lead to better retention, as viewers eagerly anticipate the next Bridgerton spinoff, which reduces churn. Locking in that viewer interest long term then provides a streamer with better pricing power. 

Importantly, this list also features several international series, which reflects Netflix’s unrivaled years long investments into non-English content. This speaks to critical capital efficiency. Often (but not always), international productions are less expensive than US and UK-based productions and as Netflix looks to further stabilize costs, these investments become even more important to the bottom line. Non-English content’s ability to resonate beyond its home market, and importantly translate to high ARPU regions such as UCAN (US and Canada), is integral to financial success. Thus far, Squid Game has proven to be the exception to the rule but Netflix is making progress. Longer-term, Netflix’s voluminous roster of international content gives it an advantage as the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes continue. 

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