Dwayne Johnson’s HBO series Ballers has made an impression since its addition to Netflix in nearly a couple of dozen regions in August 2023, with the show having a resurgence in popularity four years after the final season aired.
The addition of Ballers comes a month after Netflix got hold of Insecure in the US (other regions picked it up in August) and looks to be the first breakout hit from the HBO licensing deal Netflix struck over the summer.
The so-called Netflix Bump has been well documented in the past, with the first ever show really getting the label being Breaking Bad and since joined by shows like Schitt’s Creek and Manifest.
The essential premise of it is that a struggling show elsewhere can be added to Netflix and instantly rocket in popularity.
So, how is Ballers doing? Let’s take a look.
According to FlixPatrol, the show has now featured in the daily Netflix top 10s in 40 countries, with many appearing every day since its addition, including the US. FlixPatrol also notes that the series has featured in the Max top 10s for a couple of days since its Netflix arrival.
The show also featured in the global top 10s, picking up 18.4 million hours watched (equates to 3.9 million viewers) in the first week only behind DEPP V HEARD and Painkiller.
Looking at external sources (sometimes referred to as demand metrics), we can see the show getting a huge bump globally. Google Trends shows the popularity most starkly. Looking over the past 90 days, you can clearly see when the show was added to Netflix, and looking back over the past five years, you can even see when seasons 4 and 5 were released at HBO and that its popularity looks to be on course to be around the same as then.
The bottom graph in the above graphic also shows a similar story. The MOVIEmeter is IMDb’s way of measuring popularity based on inbound traffic to a show or movie page. There you can see the show rocketing in their database with it potentially rivaling when new seasons were being released.
Twitter account TV Grim Reaper perhaps captured the popularity bump the best, citing Nielsen numbers unreleased to the public via the top 10s but rather a source that has access to data.
In his Tweet, he states viewing minutes went up by over 400x in a week:
- Between August 7th and August 13th, the show, while only on Max (previously HBO Max), had only 1.7 million viewing minutes.
- From August 14th to August 20th, when the series was both on Netflix and Max, it jumped to 696 million minutes.
What are the takeaways from the Netflix bump? Given the current climate, there are quite a few, and even those are up for debate.
As we’ve documented from the Netflix top 10s since their operation, freshness is key to doing well on Netflix. That’s seen every first of the month when Netflix’s movie library rotates, and many of the older titles that are added get a new lease of life. It’s also why Netflix is far more aggressive when it comes to adding new Netflix Originals. New content drives viewership.
Secondly, it comes at a time when the drive to profitability for legacy media companies means they’re more desperate for short-term cash flow as is the case for Warner Bros. Discovery. Given the fact that Netflix’s addition seems to have even bumped the show’s popularity on Max, it seems like a win-win.
Finally, these HBO additions come at a time when new Original content is perhaps beginning to slow down or be more spread out. That’s as Hollywood has to tackle its upcoming content pipeline, which has been disrupted since at least May 2023, being lighter due to ongoing strikes that have no end in sight. Licensing content will be vital for Netflix to fill in any gaps left by shows and movies no longer in production.
Netflix has at least four more HBO shows set to hit the service in the coming months, with the seminal WW2 mini-series The Pacific and Band of Brothers next lined up for the platform in the US (other regions TBD) in September 2023.