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Netflix’s Summer Rom-Coms Were As Big of a Hit As They Seemed

The company still won’t release viewership metrics, but one thing is for sure: Movies like ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ were a huge success

Netflix/Ringer illustration

Netflix may never be transparent about what its viewers are watching, but we know at least one thing: A lot of users have been watching rom-coms. As announced in the streamer’s Q3 earnings report Tuesday, more than 80 million subscribers watched Netflix’s “Summer of Love” series, which included well-received films like Set It Up, Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, The Kissing Booth, Like Father, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. To All the Boys warranted specific praise in the report, as Netflix stated that the film had “strong repeat viewing” among its users. If you got the impression that everyone was talking about Netflix rom-coms this summer, well, you were right. Of course, it’s important to note that in its report, Netflix didn’t specify what constitutes a “watch”—if someone flipped to a rom-com for more than a couple of minutes, does that count, in the same way YouTube counts video views after five seconds?—but 80 million-plus is still an impressive statistic, enough so that the company singled it out in an earnings report covering its entire programming slate.

The company added that it’s now hard at work on its “next set” of romantic comedies. (Though they weren’t specific about when more rom-coms would drop, perhaps we’re looking at a Summer of Love 2.0 in 2019?) Netflix has justifiably earned a reputation for being a hub for all kinds of entertainment, achieving a kind of streaming omnipotence where an abundance of Oscar-caliber films, animated series geared for kids, anime, prestige dramas, sports docuseries, comedies, and even blockbusters are all available on the site. But Netflix has also shown its eagerness to key in on and replicate successful tactics. After the success of Stranger Things, Netflix added more horror-inclined shows, like Dark and The Haunting of Hill House, to its slate. Now that its Summer of Love series has paid off, naturally, more rom-coms like those are imminent—and more of them may specifically star teen thirst trap Noah Centineo.

As Netflix boasted in its Q3 report, Centineo’s role in To All the Boys led to a large spike in the actor’s Instagram followers. Centineo now has more than 13 million followers after experiencing a post-release growth spurt rivaled by only that of Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown. That uptick in Centineo’s social media following is the most tangible proof that the actor is a bankable streaming star, and Netflix referencing him in its report points to him popping up again in the company’s future projects.

Bar graph showing Netflix actors’ Instagram followings before and after their TV/movie launches Netflix

The rom-com revival on Netflix is just one victory in a series of accomplishments for the streamer, which added nearly 7 million subscribers in Q3—besting its expected growth rate of 5 million new users—on the way to nearly $4 billion in quarterly revenue. The subscriber growth is primarily due to overseas users, which makes sense. Netflix has essentially saturated the U.S. market with around 60 million subscribers; there are only so many more users it can add stateside. By setting its eyes on overseas viewers, Netflix capitalized on previously untapped markets.

The company now has approximately 137 million global subscribers. To put this in perspective, there are now more global Netflix users than people living in Mexico. Netflix is also ramping up its original international programming, with projects that will span the likes of India, Mexico, Germany, Brazil, France, and the Middle East. (The company praised the Mexican series La Casa de Las Flores as a “big hit,” without providing any specifics.)

By the end of 2018, Netflix expects to gain an additional 9.4 million new users—which would eclipse its previous quarterly record of 8.3 million. That’s a lofty goal, but with Netflix continuing to churn out original projects with no slowdown in sight—the company set a new record in the third quarter of 2018 by producing 676 hours of original content—its arrow continues to point up. If it wasn’t already clear—especially after Amazon Prime and Matthew Weiner’s The Romanoffs lost significant opening-weekend buzz to Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House—Netflix remains the undisputed king of the streaming wars. And as Netflix looks to unveil the next Noah Centineo in 2019 (how will our hearts survive?!), Amazon, Hulu, and newcomers like Facebook Watch, Disney, and Apple’s streaming service will have a steep hill to climb.