In 2020, South Africans more than doubled the amount of their Netflix viewing compared to 2019.
At the start of the year (pre-Covid lockdown, from January to February), South Africans spent most of their TV time watching titles across multiple genres. However, from March to July, thrillers, action, musicals and reality had a surge in viewing hours. Kids content, drama and comedy, including stand up, took the top three spots of the most popular genres throughout the year.
However, the genres that saw the biggest boost in viewing compared to 2019 are fantasy, K-Dramas and anime. In the absence of live sporting events, many sports fans turned to sports-related documentaries on Netflix to fill the void in April, May and August 2020.
Netflix provided the following detailed breakdown of viewing habits in South Africa:
South African content travelled the World:
This year showed that the world has an appetite for South African content with titles made in Mzansi making the Top 10 lists in many countries around the globe. Alongside the two Netflix Originals that landed on the service this year, Queen Sono and Blood & Water, Mzansi’s ‘most travelled’ South African titles of 2020 include: Santana, Seriously Single, 8, Bedford Wives, Mrs Right Guy, Hole in the Wall, Baby Mamas, Kandasamys: The Wedding, Momentum, Riding With Sugar, The Groom’s Price and the award-winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher.
South Africans travelled the world from the safety of their homes:
With travel restrictions in effect, South Africans used entertainment to satisfy their wanderlust by watching more foreign language titles. Viewing went up by almost 200% (compared to 2019) – proving that you don’t need a passport to sate your curiosity about other cultures and countries. Members travelled the globe via Netflix and made the following titles their favourite destinations: Lost Bullet (France), Money Heist: Part 4 (Spain), Barbarians: Season 1 (Germany), Rogue City (France), Dark Desire: Season 1 (Mexico), The Paramedic (Spain), DJ Cinderella (Brazil), The Platform (Spain), and Mosul (Iraq).
Mzansi’s Enduring Favourites of 2020
Throughout this year there have been some titles that South Africans couldn’t get enough of. These series & films enjoyed the longest run on South Africa’s Top 10 lists after their launch on the service in 2020. The titles range across multiple genres and include: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Blood & Water, Money Heist, Modern Family, Love is Blind, Sex Education, The Queen’s Gambit, Lucifer, Emily in Paris, The Stranger, Ozark, Umbrella Academy, Spencer Confidential, Dynasty and Family Feud South Africa.
With so many great titles from South Africa and around the world across multiple genres, here’s a roundup of the Top films and series by genre that South Africans watched in 2020 (Please note these are in no particular order):
- Action: South Africans love a good action title and in 2020, they watched twice as much action content compared to 2019. In a year when real life action and adventure were hard to come by, there titles showed muscle as the most popular action content in 2020: Warrior Nun: Season 1, The Old Guard, Extraction, Bloodshot, Project Power, The Losers, Bad Boys for Life, Spider Man: Far From Home, Charlie’s Angels and Lost Bullet.
- Comedy: Nothing beats the SA sense of humor in the face of adversity. In 2020, South Africans turned to comedy content as an escape: Space Force: Season 1, Hubie Halloween, Holidate, Work It, The Sleepover, Emily in Paris: Season 1, The Wrong Missy, Coffee & Kareem, Love Wedding Repeat and Desperados.
- Documentary: 2020 taught us to open our eyes. We saw this in the way the world embraced My Octopus Teacher – a documentary feature highlighting the beauty of nature. This year, documentary content South Africans also embraced include: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, The Social Dilemma, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, American Murder: The Family Next Door, Coronavirus Explained, Unsolved Mysteries: Volume 1, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, Down to Earth with Zac Efron: Season 1 and World’s Most Wanted: Season 1.
- Drama: We can’t ignore a good drama, and SA was glued to: A Fall From Grace, Blood & Water: Season 1, Ratched:Season1, The Queen’s Gambit: Limited Series, Enola Holmes, Rebecca, Lucifer:Season 5, Barbarians:Season 1 and The Last Thing He Wanted.
- Fantasy: Many South Africans used Fantasy to escape to different worlds with a Top 10 that includes: Locke & Key: Season 1, Jumanji: The Next Level, Cursed: Season 1, The Letter for the King: Season 1, Always a Witch: Season 2, A Choo, The School Nurse Files: Season1, The Protector: Season 3, The King: Eternal Monarch: Season 1 and The Protector: Season 4.
- Anime: This year saw South Africans watching more anime content (over 200% compared to 2019). Anime titles that piques South African fans’ interest include: Castlevania: Season 3; Altered Carbon:Resleeved; Parasyte: The Maxim: Season 1; Blood of Zeus: Season 1; Pokémon: Mewtew Strikes Back – Evolution; Yu-Gi-Oh!: Season 1; Dragon’s Dogma: Season 1; The Seven Deadly Sins: Imperial Wrath of the Gods; Transformers: War for Cybertron: Siege and BAKI: The Great Raitai Tournament Saga.
- Kids Content: SA’s kids had their own ideas of what they thought were the best which included: Feel The Beat; The Angry Birds Movie 2; The Willoughbys; The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run; Over the Moon; Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous: Season 1; Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey; Malibu Rescue: The Next Wave; The Big Show Show: Part 1 and Latte and the Magic Waterstone.
- Romance: In a year of extraordinary hardship and sadness, South Africans loved to love and watched triple the amount of romance content compared to 2019. The titles that keep the romance flame alive include: : The Kissing Booth 2; Seriously Single; Love,Guaranteed; Operation Christmas Drop; To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You; The Princess Switch: Switched Again; Christmas Made To Order; Dash & Lily: Season 1; Christmas Under Wraps and Always A Bridesmaid.
- Horror: Those who preferred their entertainment a little spooky made it known with: Dracula: Season 1; Escape Room; The Haunting of Bly Manor; A Quiet Place; The Babysitter: Killer Queen; Don’t Listen; The Purge: Anarchy; Brighburn; Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare: Extended Director’s Cut and #Alive.
- Thriller: The suspense was raised with good Thrillers watched by SA including: Fatal Affair; Spenser Confidential; Cypher: Season 1; Money Heist: Part 4; Dangerous Lies; The Last Days of American Crime; Rogue City; 8; Dark Desire: Season 1 and Night Hunter.
- Sci-Fi: It’s always fun to see what the future might hold, and SA watched plenty of Sci-Fi with: Snowpiercer: Season 1; Code 8; Into The Night: Season 1; Men In Black: International; Biohackers: Season 1; The 6th Day; Altered Carbon: Season 2; Star Trek: Discovery: Season 3; Godzilla and Colony: Season 3.
- Reality: In 2020, some South Africans chose to escape their reality and immerse themselves in others’ by watching twice as much reality content compared to 2019. The most popular reality titles include: Love is Blind: Season 1; Family Feud South Africa: Season 1; Dream Home Makeover: Season 1; Too Hot To Handle: Season 1; Floor is Lava: Season 1; Crazy Delicious: Season 1; Get Organized with The Home Edit: Season 1; Million Dollar Beach House: Season 1; The Titan Games: Season 1 and The American Barbeque Showdown: Season 1.
- K-Drama: This year, South Africans discovered their love of Korean dramas (K-Dramas) and boosted viewing to nearly 300%, with members enjoying: Kingdom: Season 2; The World of the Married: Season 1; My Secret Romance: Season 1; The King: Eternal Monarch: Season 1; The Uncanny Counter: Season 1; It’s Okay to Not Be Okay: Season 1; Guardian: The Lonely and Great God: Season 1 and The School Nurse Files: Season 1.