Multinational Thrillers Attract Netflix Viewing

Curator's Note

This promotional clip that blends the narrative worlds of two of Netflix’s most popular properties illustrates some of the textual strategies Netflix has used in its commissioned titles to attract large multinational audiences. The Netflix commissioned film 6 Underground is the only title that ranked on the Top 10 programs viewed in 2019 in 17 different countries, while the Spanish series Money Heist ranked in six (the second most ranked series after The Witcher). 6 Underground is a US produced film, directed by acclaimed action director Michael Bay, and Money Heist, the English name for La Casa de Papel was originally created for Spanish television, and the re-edited for Netflix, which also funded production of later seasons.

It is unsurprising that these titles ranked often among most-watched titles. Although attracting a mass audience to titles is arguably not the primary goal of subscriber-funded video services, it is a strategy included in Netflix’s quiver of programming strategies. These titles best display general Hollywood ‘internationalizing’ strategies, such as relying on action and spectacle, featuring a large cast with a range of national origins, and shooting on location in multiple countries.

Notably, a key difference between these shows is their language of origin: English for 6 Underground and Spanish for Money Heist. The widespread success of both titles likely indicates a combination of the effective dubbing and strength of Netflix’s personalized promotion. Money Heist’s success is not exclusive to Spanish-language countries, although it does rank among the top shows in Argentina and Colombia. It also ranked in Brazil, France, Italy, and Germany.

It is important to keep in mind that these titles that rely on common Hollywood internationalizing features are arguably outliers among Netflix commissions. The service has also achieved considerable multinational popularity with series and films about teen life and romance, many of which are far more culturally specific than the suspense-filled thrillers considered here. Notably, this analysis is only possible based on extrapolation from the limited and basic data of the Top 10 shows watched in a year in 17 countries. Nonetheless, in concert with textual analysis, it helps identify one of the program strategies of this multinational video service that is current without comparison.

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