Netflix says 'Murder Mystery' its most popular U.S. release in 2019

Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Netflix Inc's original film "Murder Mystery," starring Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, topped a list of the streaming service's most popular releases of 2019 in the United States, Netflix said in a statement on Monday. The third season of the science fiction series Stranger Things came in second on the list, followed by the Michael Bay action movie "6 Underground." The animated movie "Incredibles 2" and Martin Scorsese's gangster film "The Irishman" took the fourth and fifth spots, respectively. The ranking was based on the number of households watching at least two minutes of a series, movie or special during its first 28 days on Netflix in 2019, the streaming service said. Netflix, which boasts more than 158 million subscribers around the world, only selectively releases viewership figures for programming it considers a hit, and the numbers are not verified by a third party. Executives at Netflix have said they plan to be more transparent with audience data to satisfy Hollywood producers and stars and to help viewers decide what to watch. The limited details on what grabbed Netflix viewers' attention this year came ahead of the company's Jan. 21 quarterly earnings report, which will disclose revenue and membership by region for the first time. The streaming heavyweight is facing new competition, particularly from Walt Disney Co, which has been removing its movies from Netflix and putting them on the Disney+ streaming service. Netflix shares have risen 23% this year, the smallest annual rise in three years. The S&P 500 Index is up 29% for the year.

Top 10 most popular releases of 2019 (U.S.) 1. Murder Mystery 2. Stranger Things 3 3. 6 Underground 4. Incredibles 2 5. The Irishman 6. The Witcher 7. Triple Frontier 8. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile 9. The Umbrella Academy 10. The Highwaymen

(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Additional reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Cooney)