'Murder Mystery,' 'Stranger Things' Are The Most Popular 2019 Titles On Netflix, According To Netflix's Very Specific Parameters

Netflix has long been averse to releasing viewership statistics for its original titles, but the streaming giant is never reluctant to toot its own horn when it comes to "popularity." And with the streaming field set to become more splintered than ever before in 2020 — with newcomers like Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Quibi poised to threaten the current dominion held by Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu — it's fitting for Netflix to make a show of strength with its annual "most popular" list. And the list of Netflix's most popular titles of 2019 is a great indicator of what's in store for us in the future: more Netflix originals, more Stranger Things, and lots of Adam Sandler taking expensive vacations with his friends.

Only one non-original title made it to the top of Netflix's most popular releases list of 2019. Pixar's The Incredibles 2 holds the No. 4 spot in Netflix's top 10 most popular releases of the year, behind Murder Mystery, Stranger Things 3, and 6 Underground. It's a vision of Netflix's future without the benefit of some of its most-streamed titles: comfort-food shows like Friends (heading to HBO Max) and family-friendly fare from Disney (all soon to be exclusive on Disney+).

But that most popular list comes with a caveat, of course, because even as Netflix fights to keep its popularity as the most prolific streaming giant, it still can't be totally transparent with us. According to Variety, a Netflix spokesperson said that "popularity" was not determined by the total number of viewers for a given piece of content, but by counting the total number of households to stream an individual title for at least two minutes, during the first 28 days of its release. It's not unlike Netflix's "efficiency metric" to determine whether a show is worth renewing.

That means that Netflix's autoplay function could have had a heavy hand in those views. The much-hated autoplay function will automatically play trailers of Netflix's original titles promoted on its homepage, as well as full episodes when viewers visit the details pages of titles. Netflix's promoted movies and shows will often autoplay after a viewer has finished watching another title. While trailers on the homepage probably don't count towards views, there are probably plenty of instances where viewers have left Netflix open for a few minutes before switching over to something else, finding themselves to be one of the statistics adding to these lists. That would explain the high placement of titles like the Michael Bay extravaganza 6 Underground, and the video-game adaptation The Witcher, both of which only hit Netflix in the past couple weeks.

See the full lists of most popular films, TV shows, and documentaries watched on Netflix below.

Top 10 Most Popular Releases of 2019Murder MysteryStranger Things 36 UndergroundThe Incredibles 2The IrishmanThe WitcherTriple FrontierExtremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and VileThe Umbrella AcademyThe HighwaymenTop 10 Most Popular Movie Releases Of 2019 Murder Mystery6 UndergroundThe Incredibles 2The IrishmanTriple FrontierExtremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and VileThe HighwaymenSpider-Man: Into the Spider-VerseRalph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2Secret ObsessionTop 10 Most Popular Documentary Releases Of 2019Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy TapesOur PlanetFYRE: The Greatest Party That Never HappenedHomecoming: A Film by BeyonceDon't F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet KillerAbducted in Plain SightThe Disappearance of Madeleine McCannThe FamilyStreet Food: Volume 1Kevin Hart: Don't F**k This Up