What Made the TV Show ‘You’ a Hit? Netflix

Throughout the fall, the producer Greg Berlanti was attempting to avoid wasting his cable drama “You.”

The collection had premiered on Lifetime in September, however its viewership was nearly nonexistent: roughly 650,000 folks have been tuning in to every episode of the soapy stalker thriller, starring Penn Badgley. Even Mr. Berlanti, certainly one of the most profitable and prolific producers in tv because of exhibits like “Riverdale,” “Arrow” and “Blindspot,” conceded in an interview that “barely anybody watched” it.

He made repeated calls to Lifetime executives, asking for endurance and making his case for a second season. It wasn’t sufficient. In early December, Lifetime introduced it was completed with “You.”

But proper after Christmas, one thing occurred. “You” began lighting up social media. People have been looking for it on-line. Entertainment websites like The Ringer have been writing about the present.

What modified? It started streaming on Netflix.

Mr. Berlanti heard from household and buddies about how a lot they have been having fun with his new present, ignoring the proven fact that it had debuted months earlier.

And it should be noted that Lifetime is not exactly a ratings wasteland. Its documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” has been one of the year’s early hits.

For the time being, Mr. Berlanti is a believer.

“It went from being one of the least-watched shows I’ve ever worked on and been most proud of — and I’m choosing to take Netflix at their word on this — to being the most-watched show I’ve ever worked on in 20-something years of being in the business,” he said.

Oh, and Netflix is also making a second season of “You.” Filming begins next month.

Throughout the weekend, rival television executives groused privately that the viewership number Netflix released was virtually meaningless. Netflix explained that each of those 40 million viewers had watched at least 70 percent of one episode. (“You” has 10 episodes in its first season.)

What it could not find was an audience on cable. On the days it aired, it had trouble gaining bigger ratings than the 7 a.m. edition of “SportsCenter.”

Luckily for Mr. Berlanti, “You” had a well-financed supporter.

Months before the series premiered, Netflix signed on to be the streaming partner of the series.

Bela Bajaria, a vice president of content for Netflix who scooped up the streaming rights, had seen success with “Riverdale,” another of Mr. Berlanti’s series. In its second season, after “Riverdale” began streaming on Netflix, its viewership on the CW shot up 42 percent. Netflix has had that effect on series before, including AMC’s Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad,” which saw increased viewership totals after it began streaming.

Ms. Bajaria was enthusiastic about “You” from the moment she read the script.

“We really felt this hit a sweet spot for our audience, and we felt that our members would love the show,” she said. “I was hoping it would be big.”

By the time Lifetime decided to renege on its second season commitment in early December, Netflix said it would make a second season even though the series had not started streaming yet.

Ms. Bajaria’s confidence in the show was well rewarded. She pored over the viewership numbers between Christmas and New Year’s Day and saw Netflix had a hit on its hands immediately after it began streaming.

“It’s actually done well in every region, and that doesn’t always happen,” Ms. Bajaria said, saying she was particularly pleased with its performance in Latin America, France and the Philippines.

For Mr. Berlanti, the sudden success of “You,” after months of despair, was reassuring.

“I’ve never had an experience that has been this delayed in television before,” he said. “The fact that it was rewarded by people actually watching made us feel we’re not crazy. We actually did make something that was really enjoyable and fun and a real ride for the audience.”

Mr. Berlanti, beginning to laugh, then compared the series to the obsessive lovelorn character at the heart of “You.”

“If Joe is a man who is simply just searching for love, well, then, our show finally found the right partner,” he said.

Source link Nytimes.com

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