New Netflix Report Proves Sci-Fi Is the Platform's Most Important Genre

Genre projects with a lot of ambition are the streamer’s bedrock.


Netflix has always been coy about how well its projects do once they’re released. The streamer could claim a show had been watched for millions of hours or that it had catapulted up its Top 10 for weeks at a time, but fans and analysts could only take the platform’s word for it while making their own best guesses with ancillary data. Users could judge shows on their own terms, but it was notoriously difficult to track trends (and, for creators, it was difficult to get feedback).

Netflix has finally started to open up with its new biannual Engagement Report. The first of these covers January through June 2023 and tracks global viewership for all Netflix titles. Assuming the data is accurate, it’s clear the streamer has been carried by lofty genre movies and shows, with sci-fi in particular leading the way.

The Night Agent was a surprise hit, becoming Netflix’s most-watched show in the first half of 2023.


The gold medal goes to conspiracy thriller The Night Agent, while Wednesday, which had a blockbuster premiere in November 2022 but still drew an audience in 2023, slotted in at number four. Beneath that are some surprising genre results: Shadow and Bone Season 2 managed to snag 26th, which is impressive for a series that was canceled and offers some hope for the Six of Crows spinoff fans have been demanding for so long. In 28th is the post-apocalypse fantasy series Sweet Tooth Season 2, which was renewed for a third and final season. Notably, Stranger Things Season 4 hung in at 61st place, despite no new episodes coming out this year.

Sci-fi sleeper hit Alice in Borderland Season 2 was 40th, and 2022’s cultural behemoth Squid Game was 120th. Even seasons of old licensed genre shows like Manifest and The Walking Dead made it in the top 60.

Japanese manga adaptation Alice in Borderland was a hit this year.


While this report does offer some disappointment for sci-fi fans — the underseen historical sci-fi mystery 1889 only garnered 279th — it’s clear sci-fi series with big premises have a good chance of getting in front of viewers.

If Netflix sticks to its promise of releasing this report bi-annually, we’ll soon see how series like The Fall of the House of Usher and Squid Game: The Challenge did in the back half of 2023. For fans, more transparency can only mean good things, especially when it helps you argue that your favorite show is chronically underrated.

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