The Netflix Effect: How 14 Shows Transformed Canadians’ Hobbies and Interests

If you’ve been streaming Netflix, chances are you’ve experienced what is commonly known as the Netflix Effect. Now, what exactly is this “Netflix Effect” you may ask? This phenomenon refers to the way in which the streaming platform’s captivating content influences the real world through factors such as our consumption habits, binge-watching behaviours, or even, the emergence of unexpecting trends. This left us wondering…which Netflix shows and documentaries played a significant influence on Canadians, and in what ways? 

We’re closing out our Netflix tab and pulling up Google Trends to find the most influential shows and documentaries, according to Canada’s search volumes. Grab your popcorn, sit back, and relax, as we uncover the 14 Netflix originals that are inspiring Canadians to explore new skills or hobbies!

Lights, camera, action! 14 shows that introduced Canadians into new interests

Sports, arts, languages, oh my! The Netflix Effect left the digital world and seeped into the minds of thousands of Canadians as it ignited many new passions of countless Canadians, throughout the nation.

The Queen’s Gambit rightfully takes the throne (pun totally intended) and claims checkmate as the most influential Netflix series, with a total of five breakout searches when the series aired back in 2020. With breakout searches (search term grew by more than 5000%) like “how to castle in chess”, “chess moves cheat sheet”, “instant chess”, “lego chess set”, and “chessboard”, it’s safe to say that Canadians were eager to get their hands on the game to become the next chess champion.

Give me a C! Give me an H! Double E! R! What’s that spell? Cheer! That’s right, the Cheer docuseries flies high and sticks the landing in second place. The nation caught the infectious feel-good team spirit and sought to partake in the sport, as indicated by breakout searches such as “summer camp”, “cheer jumping”, and “cheerleading gyms”. For those less inclined to perform a few back handsprings and wanted to shake some pom-poms instead, “cheerleading movies” also soared by 5000%.

Flexing (their muscles) at third, the Korean reality competition show, Physical: 100, wins the bronze medal. The shredded contestants’ inspirational mind-over-matter mindset resonated with Canadians as they searched how to get into the sports of “mixed martial arts”, “wrestling”, and “competitive bodybuilding” across the country. The workout regime doesn’t end there – “Korean – spoken language” also emerged as a breakout search, indicating that residents are working out their minds as well.

Swiping left, swiping left, ah! Super like! While dating may not be considered a conventional hobby, it has become a time-consuming pastime for those who are seeking their perfect match. Contrary to the premise of Tinder Swindler, the dating app blew up as search queries like “Tinder app download”, “Tinder gold promo code,” and “best pickup lines for Tinder” shot up by 5000% when the documentary was released. But before you judge Canadians for turning a blind eye to the key takeaway of the film, “Tinder account verification” soared by 700% on Google during that time period.

Finishing up the top five is none other than 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible. The mountaineering documentary piqued the interest of the nature-loving nation, sparking search trends for “mountaineering sport”, “Rocky Mountains”, and “crampons” (ice climbing footwear), in late 2021. What better country to embark on this new hobby than our very own Canadian Rockies, eh? 

From spectators to participants: how Netflix inspired Canadians to try uncommon sports over the years

Take me out to the…speedcubing tournament? As Netflix continues to pump out sports docuseries and documentaries, Canadians have been tuning in and trying out these unconventional sports over the last four years (2019-2023). Starting from reverse chronological order, let’s begin in the year of 2019.

Revving its engines in 2019, Formula 1: Drive to Survive accelerated race car driving into the spotlight for countless viewers. Although it’s quite an expensive and formidable sport, Canadians have searched for “driving simulators” near them since season 1 premiered.

In 2020, Cheer, The Speed Cubers, and The Queen’s Gambit led viewers to explore new physical and mental workouts. From performing pikes to honing critical thinking and motor skills through chess and speedcubing (the art of solving a Rubik’s Cube or other twisty related puzzles in the shortest time possible), it was quite the year of diverse challenges! 

The sky was the limit in 2021 as 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible as Canadians desired to get their hands (or feet) on some crampons. Similar to Formula 1, this sport is a lot trickier to embark on, but definitely attainable for nature and adrenaline enthusiasts out there. After all, nothing is impossible, right?

Blown Away blew the minds of thousands as glassblowing was introduced to the general population in 2022. While some view it as a form of art rather than a sport, artists consider it the extreme sport of the art world. Canadians felt they were up for the challenge as they sought out “glassblowing workshops” and “glassblowing classes” when season one aired. 

Netflix continues to hit the ground running by producing a handful of new sports docuseries this year: Break Point, Physical: 100, and Full Swing. While some may argue that tennis and golf are mainstream sports, it’s undeniable that Netflix contributed to their surge in popularity among the general population. Tennis-related searches were record-breaking, including “tennis skirts and dress”, and “tennis balls”, with a 450% increase when part one of Break Point was released. Full Swing prompted Canadians to search for a “professional golfer career”, perhaps, leading the country to explore a potential career for themselves. Lastly, as mentioned earlier, Physical: 100 reintroduced the sports of mixed martial arts, wrestling, and bodybuilding to Canadians; with search queries skyrocketed over 5000% for each of these sports.

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To find out what the most influential Netflix shows and documentaries were, we used Google Trends to analyze the search volumes during the time period each Netflix show and documentary aired. We compiled a list of the top 14 due to data availability and scored each show or documentary by the number of breakout searches. 

Please note that results are based on Google Trend searches conducted within Canada. Our rankings are not related to worldwide or pop culture popularity. 

The data was collected in June 2023. 

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