The Netflix effect: Eight ways Netflix is impacting society - 26 January 2021

| Written by Katie Torpey

If someone had once said to me, ‘Imagine a service that holds hundreds of TV programmes, films and videos on demand, and will make you avoid sleep just so that you can watch them all in one night’ would I have believed them? Absolutely not.

Additionally, I wouldn’t have believed them if they said to me I would want to learn chess after viewing it on a TV show, but here we are!

The number of Netflix consumers has soared in recent years and following the lockdown-driven spike in memberships, the streaming service continues to be the biggest platform of its kind. Whilst it continues transforming the entertainment industry with its binge-worthy shows, there is something much bigger happening in society known as the “The Netflix Effect”.


Consumer habits

Until the Queen’s Gambit hit screens last year, Chess was ‘just a board game’. Since then, the 1960’s inspired series that launched late last year has brought a whole new meaning to the game. Reports show that sales and Google searches of ‘chess boards’ skyrocketed online in November with eBay also reporting a 273% rise in searches for “chess sets” equalling to one search every six seconds.

The number of people playing chess grew with Chess websites welcoming 2.8 million new members, not to mention the increased percentage of female chess players. As Netflix becomes a part of our everyday lives, it’s clear the link between our buying, hobbies, shopping habits and streaming is becoming stronger.


A graph of Google trends showing the increase of chess board searches.

Source: Google trends


Binging Behaviours

With Netflix making it much easier to consume the content we want to watch, wherever and whenever, binge-watching has become the norm for modern society.

For many of us, it is a type of escapism, distracting us from our everyday responsibilities and uncertain times by giving us the enjoyment of continual entertainment. But in a demanding world, flooded with choice and fears of missing out (FOMO) on the next episode, it’s only made our expectations higher as we demand variety, value and urgency in other aspects of our lives. Food for thought?



Unlikely Trends

As long as you have not been living under a rock for the past month, you will have seen and heard all about the sensation caused by Lady Whistledown in the period drama ‘Bridgerton’. Not only has it been named the biggest drama series ever by Netflix, the romantic, Regency-era inspired series has also influenced shoppers to rethink their clothing and homeware choices too.

Pinterest searches relating to corsets, hair ribbons and regency bedrooms have all risen in popularity since the launch of the show.

From Bridgerton to The Crown which revived Princess Diana’s fashion style from the 1980s, the correlation between the screens and our wardrobes and homes is apparent.


A graph of Pinterest trends showing the increase of corset searches.
Source: Pinterest trends

Music to our ears

The Netflix phenomenon has resulted in an increase in streams not only on our TV’s but through our speakers too. A recent study has reported Stranger Things has topped the list of the most-streamed Netflix soundtracks on Spotify with an average of 87 million streams per song. If you have watched the 80’s based series I’m sure you will understand why.

With the pandemic changing our daily routines and music consumption habits, consumers are looking and leaning towards more creative forms of music to stay engaged such as through gaming, social media and TV. The 80’s revival didn’t stop there, Spotify reported a 54% increase in listeners making nostalgic-themed playlists.


Screenshot of the Stranger Things Spotify playlist
Source: Spotify

Smart AI and Technology

Netflix has mastered the use of AI and technology, providing unique solutions to the ever-changing and demanding needs of consumer behaviour. Data and insights, trending patterns, personalised content and AI digital marketing are just a handful of tactics used by the TV network that has completely transformed the customer experience, whilst setting the bar high for other brands to follow in the same direction.


Matters that mean the most

If it’s one thing Netflix has brought to our attention, it’s global awareness. After being postponed from cinemas due to the pandemic, David Attenborough’s: A Life On Our Planet premiered on Netflix late last year sending a powerful message to viewers in a bid for change and action to global issues.

WWF reported that the show ‘inspired millions of people to take action for our planet, including decision-makers and key influencers in their ‘How we made a difference in 2020’  report with social media playing a huge part to play.

Since the release, social media has also continued to see spikes for ”meat-free meal’’ searches. The knock-on effect from this is greater global awareness and consumers championing environmental and sustainable brands.


A graph of Pinterest trends showing the increase of meat free meal searches.
Source: Pinterest trends

Rediscovering the past

Whether it’s a reboot, remake or original, revisiting old TV shows and movies brings all kinds of feels. Netflix has taken huge advantage of this by giving us a cultural throwback and a sense of nostalgia whilst equally allowing its user base to discover times they never lived in.

‘The Crown’, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ and ‘Cobra Kai’ are all examples of Netflix shows that tap into our past, bringing memories, optimism, predictability and safety, something which we are all looking for right now.


Taking a Stand

The response to the Black Lives Matter movement last year saw Netflix add a collection of films, documentaries and limited series around Black Lives to help people better understand the movement. In the following weeks, viewing of these titles soared.

Netflix tweeted “To be silent is to be complicit. Black lives matter. we have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up.” To date, the post has more than 1 million likes and has been retweeted more than 211,000 times.

If there is one thing worth noting that Netflix has done well, it’s standing up for what it believes in. Which encourages others to do the same. Well done Netflix. 👏


Whoever thought an online video service would have so much impact on our lives? The truth is Netflix has shaped society more than we think, as you go to watch your next episode, have a think how it shapes yours too.

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