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Genre franchises dominated top streamers, authors, and more in 2019

By Jacob Oller
David Harbour Jim Hopper Stranger Things

As another year of comic-cons, Star Wars Celebrations, and summer blockbusters comes to a close, it’s time to calculate some final performance numbers for the media industry. Reading SYFY WIRE’s report on 2019’s record-breaking achievements might lead genre fans to believe that the box office and small screen alike were dominated by fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. They'd be right to think so. Those figures haven’t changed, and now new statistics spanning the streaming service war to top authors solidify that 2019 was another year where genre pushed the top metrics of success.

First were numbers from Netflix. The streaming service has published its top lists of content for the year, separated into lists noting new series, all content, and more. But before checking out these lists, it’s important to understand what Netflix considers a “view.” Variety reports that not only do audience members not have to watch the entire show or movie to be counted, they barely have to watch it at all.

These top performance lists were determined “by counting the total number of households to stream an individual title for at least two minutes during the first 28 days of its release.” That means autoplay, which kicks in whenever the carousel is returned to or opened up, counts for a view if it’s left open for two minutes. With that skepticism in mind, here are Netflix’s reported top performers for 2019:

Some heavy genre hitters made the lists, including Stranger Things 3, which purported to have set a record for the company upon its release earlier this year.

The Witcher, the Henry Cavill-led high fantasy series that’s been divisive to critics, also showed up on the overall and series lists ... but could have had its numbers erroneously boosted since Netflix incorporated “viewing predictions” to any titles released in December. Whether fans continue watching the show at the rate Netflix believes remains to be seen. Other notable TV leaders were superheroic The Umbrella Academy and Raising Dion, while The Incredibles 2, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, and Ralph Breaks the Internet led the movie side of things.

This genre dominance isn’t contained simply to the screen. The authorial world is also affected by genre, especially if you happen to be a mogul who possesses a media empire of their own. Forbes reported 2019’s top-earning authors, and two of the top five are genre legends.

Horror icon Stephen King sits at No. 5, earning plenty from his new, Stranger Things-esque book The Institute and from various adaptations like Doctor Sleep. Ahead of him at number one is Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. While the author had a written version of the Broadway show bringing in money, she also “collected eight-figure sums from theme parks, theatrical productions, and a new film about The Boy Who Lived.”

The upcoming Fantastic Beasts 3 is scheduled for release on Nov. 12, 2021.