The Case For Why ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Is Netflix’s Biggest Show Of 2020

This past week, we saw something we hadn’t seen in a long time over on Netflix NFLX . For 22 straight days, The Queen’s Gambit had ruled the Top 10 for shows. But on Nov. 15, The Crown stormed in and finally upended the Netflix drama’s incredible streak in the #1 position.

A streak that very nearly bested what is considered to be the greatest run on Netflix this year, if not ever. Between March 22 and April 17, Tiger King sat atop the Top 10 rankings—that’s 27 consecutive days. To date, no other show has been able to dominate Netflix’s Top 10 list for that long.

So…The Queen’s Gambit lost, right? It can’t possibly top the numbers that Tiger King put up earlier this year?

That might be right. But there’s also a decent chance—actually, a pretty likely chance—that that’s wrong. Because there’s a case to be made that, over the past month, The Queen’s Gambit (which stars Anya Taylor-Joy) has controlled Netflix like no other show—including Tiger King—has in 2020.

I feel confident in that theory because of a Top 10 ranking system I’ve been utilizing all year. The formula is quite simple: a show or movie earns points based on its Top 10 position each day. I then add up those points over an extended period of time to see how viral a project remains in the long term.

I think there are a lot of advantages when we view Netflix data in this way. Because when we simply look at the literal watch-time numbers, that’s only a surface view of what separates a show from becoming “popular” and a show becoming viral.

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For instance, Netflix reported that Ratched was the most popular new Original to hit the streaming service in 2020—which was, yes, technically true. But that was only true because more and more people have subscribed to Netflix over time.

As you can see from this data from Statista, Netflix is set to gain close to 15 million subscribers in the U.S. and more than 30 million subscribers worldwide between December 2019 and December 2020. So, obviously, the approximately 70 million U.S. viewers who watched Tiger King in the first quarter of 2020 (Netflix saw a huge jump in subscribers in those first three months of the year) can’t compete with the nearly 75 million subscribers who watched Ratched.

And that’s where the Top 10 ranking system comes in. With this formula, each and every program on Netflix shares an even playing field. By evaluating a show’s placement on the Top 10 charts from day to day, we can judge projects based on how much of the subscriber base a show captures as opposed to how many subscribers watch a show.

With that in mind, The Queen’s Gambit has clearly outperformed a show like Ratched. The latter program spent 15 days atop the Top 10 list between Sept. 18 and Oct. 2. In total, Ratched would remain on the Top 10 charts for 28 days and accrue 225 points—only good enough for 19th place on the 2020 rankings. That point total falls behind a host of other shows, including Dead to Me, 13 Reasons Why, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Schitt’s Creek, Love is Blind, Avatar: The Last Airbender—the list goes on and on.

But we’re exactly 28 days into The Queen’s Gambit’s run—the same amount of days Ratched spent on the Top 10 charts—and the Anya Taylor-Joy show has amassed 270 points. That’s good enough for 11th place on the yearly charts.

And guess what? The Queen’s Gambit isn’t even close to being done. After relinquishing its first-place position, Ratched quickly fell off the Top 10 charts altogether. But ever since losing its #1 hold, The Queen’s Gambit has remained in second place and continued to rack up more and more points.

That trajectory is much more similar to Tiger King than it is to Ratched. Which means we need to rethink how we’re looking at The Queen’s Gambit’s Top 10 run over the past month.

Thanks to a fifth-place start on the Top 10, The Queens Gambit has accrued 270 points in the past 28 days—ten points shy of the maximum possible. That’s only two points shy of what Tiger King earned during its first 28 days.

Not too long after that historic run, Tiger King began to descend further and further down the Top 10 list. The show wouldn’t exit charts until May 9, which means Tiger King saw 50 consecutive days on the Top 10 rankings. In total, that represented a grand total of 387 points—the most of any Netflix original in 2020.

So, at this point, that is the number The Queen’s Gambit is chasing. Thus far, my ranking system shows that The Queen’s Gambit has kept pace with Tiger King. And if the Anya Taylor-Joy program can keep this up, it may very well become the indisputable #1 program on Netflix in 2020.

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