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Netflix Dictates Viewers’ Interests Through Documentary Genre

Netflix’s ability to understand viewers’ interests is nothing surprising or unique as it is an essential skill to survive in the tough industry of modern entertainment. 

However, there is something else Netflix thrives at and that is not common to many other streaming platforms: the ability to dictate what viewers like and want to watch.


I have always been very passionate about cinema, and with this, I do not only mean films. For me, it is the experience that counts. The trip to the theatre, getting in line to buy the tickets, feeling the excitement growing; the taste of fresh popcorn and even the 20-minute-long spots before the film starts. Everything is part of a unique experience that you share with dozens of strangers. Strangers that you will probably never see again, but that have cried and laughed for about two hours. 


The pure beauty of this has always prevented me from becoming a huge fan of streaming platforms like HBO, Disney+, AppleTV, etc. In fact, I mainly see them as a threat that could cause the end of traditional cinema.

However, considering the classic way we used to consume films, I have to admit that I have always encountered difficulties when it came to watching documentaries.

The very strict educative structure and the usually formal topics told throughout this genre have created a barrier, for me and many others, pushing us away from it.


However, for many people, including me, the situation changed when Netflix's popularity and net worth over its competitor increased, creating more creative opportunities for this giant.

Over the years, Netflix invested a lot in the documentary genre and, personally, I am confident that their willingness to gain more market revolutionized this genre. 

This Californian giant has been able to attract young film lovers by making documentaries simple and clear; talking about more modern and actual topics and telling those stories in an aesthetically pleasing way.

For me, the love story with Netflix’s documentaries started with Chef’s Table and it never stopped since. 

Sampa, Break Point, Drive to Survive, Tiger King and many others have changed the way I, and the world, perceive this genre. No more boring takes and classic cuts, but dynamic stories told using the most modern technology.


Consequently, thanks to Netflix’s ability to conquer this market, along with the innovative style and the remarkable financial resources they can bring to the table, many exclusive opportunities have quickly become available.

The most iconic example is the documentary series F1: Drive to Survive, which has given us a different perspective on the F1 world and those who live in it.


When I first started watching Drive to Survive I knew nothing about this sport or the people that work in it; I was simply curious. Today, I am a huge Ferrari fan and I constantly look for more news and insights on the F1 season.

This is just an example, but what happened to me, happened to many other people around the world. 

After the first seasons, F1 saw a drastic increase in people’s interest in the sport, especially in the United States. The effect that Drive to Survive had on people and the Formula 1 was so unexpected and overwhelming that it forced the organization to add a new track to the championship: Miami.

Considering that F1 is mostly a European sport and that the US has never been a huge market for this sport, this choice can truly depict how Netflix has been able to drive people’s interests.


But how did this happen? How can Netflix affect our interests so easily? The answer is “accessibility”.

Along with the release of the fifth season of Drive to Survive, the streaming platform also released a similar project called Break Point, which focuses on tennis and those players who are populating the first places in the world rankings. 

These series are both perfect examples of “accessibility” because they allow you to enter places and reality we would not be allowed to enter otherwise. 


The topics Netflix’s documentaries focus on give you a sense of exclusivity: you have access to the backstage of a very private and close environment and that makes you feel special, makes you feel knowledgeable about what is happening, and make you passionate about it because you want to know more. And Netflix will always give you more.

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