Stranger Things poster

Report: Netflix is about to make its biggest bet yet on science fiction

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Apr 30, 2018, 12:32 PM EDT

If you love Stranger Things, Altered Carbon, Bright, and its newest viewer hit, Lost in Space, get ready: Netflix apparently loves them, too, because they and other fantasy and sci-fi fare are powering the streaming giant’s surging popularity with subscribers. 

Responding to new data that shows science fiction and related programming powered the biggest viewer share of its genre content in the first quarter of 2018, Netflix is getting ready to aim even more of its seemingly limitless resources toward outer space, committing more money to more new sci-fi projects in a bid to give its still-expanding subscriber base more of what they already love.

A new Business Insider report reveals, thanks to data-crunching by streaming TV data firm Ampere Analysis, that Netflix is ramping up its spending on fantasy and sci-fi after it took the top spot on viewers’ ratings of the kind of Netflix original programming they like best on the platform for the first quarter of 2018.

The ascendance of sci-fi overtakes comedy, which previously had been Netflix’s number-one genre for original programming. According to the report, science fiction has knocked comedy back to the number two spot, followed by action & adventure.

To capitalize on the trend, “more than one quarter (29%) of Netflix's upcoming original content fits into the sci-fi and fantasy category,” the report states. The nimbleness of Netflix’s response to the uptick in viewer interest comes courtesy of the service’s reported ability to quickly assess viewer preferences. 

“Netflix uses sophisticated customer analytics to rapidly respond to changes in subscriber taste, so as demand for Sci-Fi and Fantasy grows, so does the amount of commissioned content,” Ampere said, via Business Insider.

It’s no surprise that sci-fi and fantasy are on the ascent in popular culture. All one needs to do is glance at the nearest theater marquee to see evidence of the genre’s popularity with a general moviegoing audience. It’s a wave that ripples into the living room, too, and Netflix isn’t the only small-screen provider that’s doubling down on offering more of it. 

Amazon is lining up a monolithic slab of fantasy content with its recent acquisition of the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, HBO’s Game of Thrones and Westworld are huge hits, and everyone’s anticipating what Disney will bring forward when its new digital service — complete with all the Star Wars you can handle — comes crashing the digital TV party. Heck, most of The CW's weekly schedule is anchored in sci-fi-tinged superhero shows.

Netflix has always made a big, roomy space for sci-fi, and the success of shows like Stranger Things (now in development on a third season) and Lost in Space (which pulled strong viewer ratings with its April 13 release) shows it’s been a profitable strategy. 

Next up on Netflix’s development calendar is the just-announced Another Life, themed around an extraterrestrial foray into outer space that’s already giving us some serious Alien vibes. In the meantime, you can check out Lost in Space and all of Netflix’s sci-fi originals just by signing up. You can even binge on a comedy or two in the process (it’s okay — we promise we won’t hold it against you.)