No TV conversation is complete anymore without the Netflix behemoth, as the service adds entire seasons to its never-ending pile on a weekly basis. While recently putting together a roundup of every TV review IndieWire has published in 2018, we came to the realization that it would probably take a lifetime to get through all the shows released in this calendar year alone.
Netflix has said it will spend upwards of $8 billion annually in programming costs. Granted, some of that goes to acquisition of previously produced content — but CFO David Wells has said Netflix will produce as much as 700 originals worldwide this year. That’s a lot of TV.
In 2017, Netflix ended the year by reporting that users watched more than 140 million hours of content per day, or 1 billion hours per week. But that’s a collective stat. To put a solid number on how much of our lives Netflix has been vying for, we set out to solve a simple question: How long would it take to watch all the Netflix original programming that’s been released so far this year? Would it take weeks? Months? Are they churning out content faster than the human brain could even take it all in?
The journey to this answer requires a bit of categorization. To help organize how Netflix is focusing their content blitz, we separated programming into a few groups:
- Foreign Language
Admittedly, some of these categories are reductive. And to wedge some shows into one category or another is borderline impossible. But in order to get a number that goes beyond a simple lump of minutes, we thought it would be helpful to see which areas are getting the most love.
[Note: The breakdown below reflects 2018 totals through May 10.]
Quickest Time Investment: “The End of the F***ing World” — 164 minutes
Biggest Time Investment: “Love” — 372 minutes
Speaking of “Love,” comedy is arguably Netflix’s strongest area so far this year. With another great season of “Lovesick” to start off the year on January 1 and more from the now-renewed “One Day at a Time,” this category also has “Dear White People,” the service’s best show going. If you count “The End of the F***ing World” as a comedy, that might just put it over the top. Let’s do the numbers:
12 series [“Lovesick,” “The End of the F***ing World,” “Disjointed,” “Grace and Frankie,” “One Day at a Time,” “Love,” “Santa Clarita Diet, “Alexa and Katie,” “Trailer Park Boys,” “The Letdown,” “The New Legends of Monkey,” “Dear White People”]
Total So Far: 56.1 hours
Quickest Time Investment: “Collateral” — 230 minutes
Biggest Time Investment: “Jessica Jones” — 671 minutes
Longer episodes mean more time. At this point in the year, dramas also make up a larger volume of overall series as well. Multiple seasons of “Babylon Berlin” and “The Frankenstein Chronicles” help boost these numbers, but this is one category where limited series are more likely. It’s very possible this is the last we get of “Collateral,” “Seven Seconds,” and (perhaps) “Requiem.”
16 series (18 seasons) [“Retribution,” “Babylon Berlin” (twice), “Altered Carbon,” “Greenhouse Academy,” “Everything Sucks!” “The Frankenstein Chronicles” (twice), “Seven Seconds,” “21 Thunder,” “Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” “Collateral,” “On My Block,” “Requiem,” “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Troy: Fall of a City,” “Lost in Space,” “Safe”]
Total So Far: 166.7 hours
Quickest Time Investment: “First Team: Juventus” — 119 minutes
Biggest Time Investment: “Ugly Delicious” — 496 minutes
These releases may not always be heralded as their scripted counterparts, but there’s a regular stream of them at Netflix. True crime shows get plenty of attention, but “Rotten,” “Dirty Money,” and the fantastic “Flint Town” join food series “Ugly Delicious” and “Chef’s Table: Pastry” in an impressive collection of 2018 docuseries. Some of these episodes can get in the feature-length territory, which means that docs will always be a solid bet for maximizing viewer time per individual series.
13 series [“Rotten,” “Drug Lords,” “Dirty Money,” “First Team: Juventus,” “Ugly Delicious,” “Girls Incarcerated,” “Flint Town,” “Wild Wild Country,” “Trump: An American Dream,” “Rapture,” “Chef’s Table: Pastry,” “Dope,” “Bobby Kennedy for President”]
Total So Far: 231.1 hours
Quickest Time Investment: “Nailed It” — 200 minutes
Biggest Time Investment: “Queer Eye” — 365 minutes
With Michelle Wolf and Hasan Minhaj’s new series on the horizon and the first season of “The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale” recently wrapped, this might be the last period for the forseeable future that Netflix won’t be putting out a weekly talk show. But then throw in the handful of unscripted series (not to mention the 69-minute special “Derren Brown: The Push”). The reality show/doc distinction can get hazy (take “Fastest Car”), but this is another area where it’s a little surprising how long it can take to get through some of these shows. Of course, not all of these are designed to be watched start to finish, but considering Netflix doesn’t really do dramatic procedurals, these are some of the most self-contained episodes you’ll find anywhere on the service.
10 series and specials [“Somebody Feed Phil,” “Coach Snoop,” “Queer Eye,” “Derren Brown: The Push,” “The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes,” “Nailed It!” “Fastest Car,” “A Little Help with Carol Burnett,” “The Joel McHale Show,” “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman”]
Total So Far: 274.7 hours
Quickest Time Investment: “Luna Petunia: Return to Amazia” — 120 minutes
Biggest Time Investment: “Llama Llama” — 360 minutes
Though they don’t get quite as much attention as some of their headline counterparts, this is the area that Netflix might be growing in the most. Combining children’s programming with a rapidly expanding anime catalogue, animated shows account for nearly as much runtime as the shows in the Comedy and Talk/Unscripted categories combined.
24 series (25 seasons) [“Devilman Crybaby,” “Trolls: The Beat Goes On!” “Llama Llama,” “The Adventures of Puss in Boots,” “Luna Petunia: Return to Amazia,” “Fate/Aprocrypha,” “Dreamworks Dragons: Race to the Edge,” “Voltron: Legendary Defender,” “B: The Beginning,” “AICO Incarnation,” “Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout,” “Children of the Whales,” “Spirit Riding Free,” “Sword Gai: The Animation,” “Dinotrux Supercharged,” “ReBoot: The Guardian Code,” “Wakfu,” “Violet Evergarden,” “The Boss Baby: Back in Business,” “The Magic School Bus Rides Again,” “Spy Kids: Mission Critical,” “Aggretsuko,” “Kong: King of the Apes”]
Total So Far: 367.3 hours
Quickest Time Investment: “The Frozen Dead (Glacé)” — 284 minutes
Biggest Time Investment: “Bad Guys Vile City” — 1041 (!!) minutes
Here’s where the overpowering Netflix effort really comes into focus. A few extra seasons of the fantasy series “El Ministerio del Tiempo” push this number even higher, but when you consider the full total, it would take you nearly a third of the total overall time to watch all the international productions under the “Netflix Original” banner.
20 series (23 seasons) [“The Frozen Dead (Glacé),” “Rita,” “Morocco: Love in Times of War,” “El Ministerio del Tiempo, “Re:Mind,” “Marseilles,” “Borderliner,” “Bad Guys: Vile City,” “Terrace House: Opening New Doors,” “Tabula Rasa,” “Edha,” “The Mechanism,” “Money Heist,” “AMO,” “The Chalet,” “Charité, “Ainori Love Wagon: Asian Journey: Part 1,” “3%,” “The Rain,” “Busted!”]
Total So Far: 539.5 hours
But the count doesn’t end there! Whether or not you may think of it as traditional part of television, there’s still plenty of comedy specials to sift through, too.
Quickest Time Investment: “Natalia Valdebenito: El Especial” — 50 minutes
Biggest Time Investment: “James Acaster: Repertoire” — 203 minutes
With weekly specials across a handful of different languages, there’s a new standup offering every week. Sometimes it’s a standalone hour, other times it’s a collection (as with Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher’s “The Honeymoon Special” or “Repertoire”). Toss in another season of “The Standups” and even though this takes up the least amount of runtime, it’s where some of Netflix’s most high-profile partnerships are.
41 specials and collections
Total So Far: 575.8 hours
So there you have it! If you start now, in almost exactly 24 days you’ll have watched all the new Netflix TV coming from directly under the service’s umbrella. (And that’s before you factor in the other thousands of hours from the other non-Netflix series that get added on a monthly basis.)
This giant number does serve a purpose: Preventing subscription churn. As long as a steady flow of new options comes to the platform, there’s always a way to win back subscribers who may have stepped away. Let’s say your New Year’s resolution was (for whatever reason) to give up Netflix for 2018 — the service now has 24 whole days worth of TV to point to as incentive to come back. And with the way they’re spreading this new content across genres and styles and intended audiences, odds are good that there’s something in those 575.8 hours that anyone at random could see as being worth the cost of a movie ticket or two per month.
Of course, now that we’ve mentioned it, those numbers above don’t cover every part of the Originals equation.
Quickest Time Investment: “The Trader (Sovdagari)” — 23 minutes
Biggest Time Investment: “Fullmetal Alchemist” — 134 minutes
Let us not forget the movies. By our count, there have been 49 original films (shorts and feature-length) to grace the service since the beginning of the year. As with TV, this is an eclectic mix: Some are produced with the express intent of going in the Netflix catalogue, while a few are gobbled up from the festival circuit.
Netflix’s treatment of their original film collection has been an ongoing topic of debate, on this site and in plenty of other places. The complicated calculus of homegrown productions vs. acquisitions has played out in the annual Cannes drama, but the actual discussions of the films themselves often seem to recede into the background.
We may never know the precise metric by which Netflix judges success, and it’s not too much a stretch to assume that volume has some value in this equation. Films may have the cultural currency of franchise potential. But in the long run, if the goal is to offer the deepest, widest library to subscribers, it makes sense that Netflix would double-down on drawing attention to the properties that will hold viewers’ attention the longest.
“The Cloverfield Paradox” may have been the highest-profile Netflix add of the year, but even if that film hadn’t been a massive critical disappointment, would its 102 minutes have been any more valuable than the 554 that “Lost in Space” offer?
Add the movies to the total from above and that makes a grand total of 39,209 minutes.
Granted, some of this would get cut down through autoplay and credits skipping. But average out that saved time with some bathroom and meal breaks and it would take one human being just over 27 days to get through everything that has that “djun djun!” banner right up top.
Yes, it would take you 4 weeks to watch all of the Netflix Original Programming from 2018 so far.
And we’re not even halfway through May yet.
Liz Shannon Miller contributed research assistance to this project.