Well, we’ve made it (almost). The end of the year is in sight. It’s been a tumultuous year filled with uncertainty, social distancing, lockdowns and travel restrictions, with South Africans finding ways to escape, travel and connect with the world. We got a major source of escapism from Netflix, perhaps understandably. This year, South Africans more than doubled their Netflix viewing compared to 2019.
Here’s what South Africans watched on Netflix in 2020:
Our own content
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.
With travel restrictions in effect, South Africans used entertainment to satisfy their wanderlust by watching 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. Subscribers 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).
SA’s Top 10 longest-running contenders
Throughout this year there were some titles that South Africans couldn’t get enough of. These series and 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.
Are you more of a rom-com fan than an action one? Well, in no particular order, here are the top 10 films and series, organised by genre, that South Africans gorged on this year:
ACTION: South Africans love a good action title. In 2020 we watched twice as much action content compared to 2019. In a year when real-life action and adventure were hard to come by, these were the most popular action titles 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 SA’s sense of humour in the face of adversity. In 2020, South Africans turned to comedy content as an escape. The top options? 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.
DOCUMENTARIES: 2020 taught us to open our eyes. We saw this in the way the world embraced My Octopus Teacher – a documentary highlighting the beauty of nature. This year, documentary content SA 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 us watching more anime content (over 200% compared to 2019 — but that might just be because there was more anime content available). Anime titles that pique 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 was the best entertainment. This 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. We 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; Brightburn; Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare: Extended Director’s Cut and #Alive.
THRILLERS: The suspense was raised with 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 being the top choices in this country.
REALITY: In 2020, some chose to escape their own reality and immerse themselves in others’ by watching double the amount of reality content consumed in 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 by 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.
South Africans certainly took advantage of Netflix’s escapist nature to get through this year! Anyone else planning on spending the holidays bundled up in bed and binge-watching any shows they missed out on?