RUMOR: Netflix PR is Propping Up Original Series ‘Ozark’ on Social Media

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Netflix insiders thought they had another ‘Breaking Bad’ on their hands. But instead when the critical reviews started to roll in, they were disappointed to see quite a bit of neutral and negative feedback from television journalists. Sitting at a 65% on Rotten Tomatoes, ‘Ozark’ is currently one of Netflix’s lowest rated original series, at least critically speaking. But interestingly, the show has actually been very successful for the streaming service as far as total viewership goes, according to sources close to the matter.

“Netflix thinks the show [Ozark] is good, but it didn’t get the critical attention Netflix was expecting…”

The hype machine surrounding every Netflix original shows has probably cooled a bit, as the novelty of a streaming service releasing original content isn’t new anymore. Competition has picked up and the volume of releases is setting a blistering pace, making it difficult to keep track of every original show released.

But Netflix’s marketing machine is rumored to have found another unique way to promote their shows, social media seeding.

It’s not uncommon for a show that suffers critical ratings to still find massive audiences as consumer success and critical reception don’t always overlap. In order to push through a difficult critical review cycle, a source close to the matter informed us that Netflix is pushing the show through social media channels to drum up an audience.

“Netflix thinks the show [Ozark] is good, but it didn’t get the critical attention Netflix was expecting, so they turned to social media to hype the show, and it appears to be working,” our source mentioned.

There is currently a disproportionate amount of people who have mentioned ‘Ozark’ on services such as Twitter and Reddit than other Netflix originals, especially when compared with critical ratings.

To check on this, we ran some analysis using social media trend tracking tools, and compared ‘Ozark’ to higher-rated shows across the streaming service. In the 30 days following each show’s release, initial numbers show there is currently a disproportionate amount of people who have mentioned ‘Ozark’ in the context of Netflix on services such as Twitter and Reddit than other Netflix originals, especially when compared with critical ratings.

Diving into the individual examples that we scraped, there were definitely some odd anecdotes, specifically we noticed on Reddit a large proportion of regularly occurring threads promoting the show in hyperbolic fashion, calling it the next ‘Breaking Bad’ or arguing that ‘Ozark is HBO Sunday night caliber.’ On Twitter, there were plenty of accounts

Of course there’s nothing wrong with this as a marketing tactic, companies use social media all the time. But if Netflix has truly been able to use non-branded accounts to push a critical flop into a commercial success, other television might start paying closer attention.

Whether or not these rumors are true, it’d really be more impressive that Netflix was able to turn a mediocre critical reception into one of their most popular shows of the year from a viewership perspective. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time critical reviews inversely correlated with audience ratings; ‘Ozark’ fan reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are in the mid 90% range.

While Netflix won’t comment on the performance of shows, it has renewed the show for a second season, signaling that there is enough viewership to keep the show going. We have reached out for comment and will update the story if we hear back.

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