Year-end "best of" lists can be a lot of fun, and they can also provide a wealth of information for investors. You can't always draw a straight line from these lists to sales or profit metrics, but they can provide valuable insight and anecdotal evidence into consumer behavior and trends.
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) subsidiary IMDb just released its list of the top 10 TV shows of 2018, saying each "consistently ranked highest on the proprietary weekly TV rankings on IMDbPro throughout the year." The list revealed some perennial favorites as well as new entries, but one of the biggest takeaway is that seven of the top 10 shows on the list can be viewed on Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) -- and three of them are original programs from the streaming pioneer.
1. The Walking Dead
The fan-favorite zombie apocalypse tale, based on Robert Kirkman's graphic novel of the same name, has been a long running-hit for AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) and consistently ranks among the cable denizen's top performers. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise, then, that the show has long been a staple for Netflix viewers. The award-winning show is currently in its ninth season, and AMC has said the show could run as long as 20 seasons or more.
2. Black Mirror
The critically acclaimed dystopian anthology series, exploring the consequences of rushing headlong into a technology-driven future, was inspired by programs such as The Twilight Zone. It began life as a British television series on Channel 4, and Netflix purchased it after two seasons. The program is now in its fourth season, and co-creators Charlie Book and Annabel Jones have confirmed the long-rumored existence of a fifth installment, which is expected to make its debut on Netflix in early 2019. The hit show has been on the receiving end of a host of international and domestic awards, with last season's USS Callister episode taking home eight Emmys.
The sci-fi thriller is the latest in a long line of hits for cable mainstay HBO, a division of AT&T (NYSE:T). The program follows the events on a futuristic theme park populated by androids that lets visitors relive the Old West. The Emmy-winning program was one of the most nominated of 2018 and is in its second season. A third season has been confirmed, but no release date has been announced.
4. The Handmaid's Tale
This dystopian tale of a totalitarian society in which women are property of the state is the first breakout hit for streaming service Hulu, owned by Disney (NYSE:DIS), Twenty-First Century Fox, Comcast, and AT&T. The program, which is now in its second season, was the runaway winner at the 2017 Emmy Awards, taking home eight statues, including the coveted Outstanding Drama Series. The sophomore season received multiple nominations and took home three Emmys for creative arts.
5. Grey's Anatomy
This medical drama, which follows the lives of a group of young doctors, is in its 15th season and has been a long-running hit for Disney-owned ABC. In addition to running on its network home, the show can be streamed on Hulu and Netflix. Many future shows from creator Shonda Rhimes will be found exclusively on Netflix, however, as the "prolific writer, producer, and television hitmaker" was signed to a multi-year deal with Netflix in mid-2017.
6. The Haunting of Hill House
This Netflix original was one of the company's breakout hits of the year, though it wasn't released until mid-October. The horror thriller, a modern reimagining of the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name, is rated 92% "fresh" on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. Even in light of its release near the end of the year, Netflix recently revealed that the program was among the top binged shows of 2018.
7. American Horror Story
This award-winning horror anthology has been a long-running hit on FX, the Fox cable channel. The series was developed by Emmy, Golden Globe, and Peabody Award-winning producer, director, and writer Ryan Murphy, who has been called one of televisions most prolific creators. American Horror Story is currently available on FX, Netflix, and Hulu, but Murphy has since changed teams. Netflix signed the creator to a multi-year deal earlier this year, ensuring that many of his future works will be exclusive to Netflix.
The historical drama follows the saga of a mythical Viking and his rise to prominence. The show is in its fifth season on The History Channel, a subsidiary of A&E Networks, which is partly owned by Disney's ABC television. The program is also available on both Amazon Prime and Hulu.
9. 13 Reasons Why
This is another Netflix original that made plenty of "best of" lists. The controversial drama, which examines the reasons behind a teen's suicide, is based on the 2007 novel of the same name. The program is in its second season, and Season 3 will reportedly hit the streaming platform in 2019. Season 2 of the series made Netflix's list of most binged shows of this year and the sophomore effort also topped Twitter's list of most tweeted streaming shows of 2018.
This comedy drama is the lone entry from premium cable channel Showtime, a division of privately held CBS. The program, which follows the trials of an alcoholic single father and how his children learn to live in spite of his affliction, is now in its ninth season. Previous seasons are available on Netflix, and Showtime can be added to Amazon Prime or Hulu for a monthly fee.
The makeup of this top 10 shows that Netflix has been enormously successful in identifying and securing the programming that keeps its viewers coming back, either by licensing the content or developing it from scratch. With 135 million subscribers and counting, Netflix continues to make all the right moves.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Danny Vena owns shares of Amazon, Netflix, and Walt Disney and has the following options: long January 2019 $85 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends AMC Networks and Comcast. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.