New shows struggle against the veterans in 2018 most binged list


Friends and Grey’s Anatomy are the most binged shows on Netflix, leaving newer shows in the dust. The reason why Netflix original series struggle to top a “most binged” list may be as simple as human nature.

Let me tell you something that’s not surprising: Friends, according to TV Time, was the most binged show on Netflix in 2018. What’s interesting about the list, though, is that—despite the number of original series Netflix churns out and presents on their platform—only two of the top 10 were shows Netflix specifically created for their service.

Coming in at number eight was perennial big hitter Orange is the New Black. Number three was the controversial 13 Reasons Why.

Now, before we decry that Netflix has a problem with the quality of their original series or anything crazy like that, let’s take an honest look at why Friends, Grey’s Anatomy, Money Heist, Riverdale, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The 100, Big Bang Theory and Pretty Little Liars make up TV Time’s top 10 (in that order).

More from Netflix

Before we get into it, though, it must be acknowledged that TV Time’s data is all self-reported from users of their app. TV Time also admits that their 12 million users are mostly people in the 18-34 year old age range. Their data also calculates “binge-watching” as watching four or more episodes in a 24-hour session.

(I don’t know about you, but that sounds like binge-lite.)

Caveats out of the way, back to the list. It’s easy to think “where are all the Netflix originals,” but when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense that they’re not there. It all starts with the fact that people are simply hesitant to try something new.

When Netflix drops a new show into the system, something unknown that may not have a ton of talk about it, it’s going to take a lot to convince someone (ok, me) to give it a try. If the summary or trailer isn’t overwhelmingly appealing, the show gets pushed to my endless “watch later” list at best or becomes a show that never gets considered again at worst.

What most of this top 10 has in common (no matter your opinion on individual shows) is that they are, for the most part, tried and true.

What the top two, Friends and Grey’s Anatomy (not to mention South Park’s continued popularity over on Hulu, for that matter) have going for them is that people have been talking about these shows for years. Younger generations have grown up hearing about how great Friends was and how amazing Grey’s is (or was, depending on your opinions).

If you’re someone looking for a show you haven’t seen, but you’re unwilling to sit through something awful, binging a show that people have been spent a decade or more saying is great is a solid bet.

Friends and Grey’s Anatomy also have massive fan bases (see, the groundswell that kept Netflix from removing Friends from the site) that know exactly what they’re getting when they click an episode. One thing I think this list unknowingly weighs heavily is the idea that many of these series are shows that are easy to put on in the background. Especially when you think about Friends, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Big Bang Theory.

Watching something new is a commitment. You have to pay attention or you may miss something. Understanding plot and character development become part of the tv watching job description.

The key to overcoming the weight of the unknown is hype. The conversation surrounding a show can convince people to jump in and watch as much as they can so they can know what everyone else is talking about.

Even in the case of many of these network shows, the ability to catch up quickly to join the conversation is crucial. This is especially true for people (again, me) who may either forget or simply aren’t able to watch the shows as they come out. Once it’s up on Netflix, it’s a quick binge and then I’m ready to talk theories for the next season.

Netflix originals simply don’t have the same sort of “water cooler” talk. The big ones that catch fire end up getting a lot of attention, sure. That’s why we see a show like Orange is the New Black on the list. It’s a show that got a lot of people talking early on. 13 Reasons Why similarly benefitted from the conversations surrounding it, even if those conversations focused on the controversies. (No such thing as bad press, and all that.)

But most Netflix original shows get one shot. They’re either binged or ignored. They don’t really have the opportunity to gather the week after week momentum of a network season progressing. And, if you’re anything like me, something happens after hearing weeks of “oh, you’re not watching this show? You’re missing out.” Once that full season drops, the desire to catch up is too much.

And perhaps all that is why Netflix is willing to churn out a ton of new series every year. Throw a lot at the wall and see what sticks. No complaints from me, I enjoy trying new things.

10 TV shows to binge over the holiday break. dark. Next

It’s just hard for new shows (on any streaming service) that aren’t getting the weekly hype build up to crack a “most binged” list. People don’t feel like they’re missing out quite as much. Nostalgia and the desire to have something that is either a guaranteed good show or at least something simple to put on in the background or both, is too much to overcome.

Maybe the tides will change in the coming years as more and more people drop cable in favor of their online counterparts. Until then, I’m going to watch The Office for the one millionth time.

What do you think? How do you choose the shows you binge on Netflix? Let us know in the comments.