Netflix says its original shows were the most popular new material on its service in 2019

Key Points
  • Netflix's original new releases topped all others on its service in 2019, the company announced Monday.
  • The disclosure could bolster Netflix's approach to investing heavily in original content to keep subscribers amid new competition.
  • Netflix stands to lose both "Friends" and "The Office," two of the most popular shows on its service, over the next couple years.
Reed Hastings attends Reed Hastings panel during Netflix 'See What's Next' event at Villa Miani on April 18, 2018 in Rome, Italy.
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Netflix's original movies and shows were more popular than any other new releases on its streaming service in 2019, the company said Monday.

Netflix revealed that its own comedy, "Murder Mystery," starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, topped the list of its most popular releases of the year. The third season of "Stranger Things," Netflix's hit TV show, came in second.

The disclosure could bolster Netflix's approach to investing heavily in original content to keep subscribers interested as it loses some of its traditionally big hits to newer streaming services. Within the next two years, Netflix will lose both "The Office" and "Friends" to rivals NBCUniversal, owned by CNBC parent Comcast, and AT&T's WarnerMedia, which are ramping up their own platforms. Disney announced it would pull its content from Netflix as it prepared to launch its new service, Disney+, which it said a day after its launch had more than 10 million sign-ups.

While third-party content will still be an important part of Netflix's strategy with the company adding the popular sitcom "Seinfeld" to its service in 2021, Netflix has bet that it can keep an edge over its competitors by creating its own original hits.

Netflix compiled the popularity rankings based on the number of accounts that watched at least two minutes of a movie or show in its first 28 days on the platform this year. The two-minute metric is meant to provide a standard way of evaluating relative popularity, a spokesperson said in a statement, rather than measuring completion of a program, which tends to discriminate against longer content.

The company is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to sharing viewership metrics, but has recently been giving investors a peek at the data behind some of its best-performing content. In its fourth-quarter 2018 earnings report, for example, Netflix shared that its movie "Bird Box" featuring Sandra Bullock reached 80 million member households in its first four weeks on the service.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC.

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