Australian show Clickbait tops Netflix charts around the world

The Australian-made cyberthriller Clickbait is a genuine global smash, having hit the number one spot on Netflix in more than 20 countries since its release on the streaming platform on August 25.

Though it has now been displaced, the eight-part series sat at the top of the US chart for 12 days, was number one in Australia and the UK for a week, and has been a top 10 title in 12 countries, including the US, UK, Netherlands and Australia, every day it has been on the service.

Five million views, we have a hit: Clickbait has clicked with audiences globally.Credit:Netflix

Netflix does not generally reveal specific viewer numbers, but independent ratings agency Nielsen last week released streaming figures that showed Clickbait was the top show on SVOD (subscriber video on demand) services in the US, with 1.46 billion minutes streamed between August 30 and September 5.

That figure, which measures only viewing via TV sets, equates to more than 24 million hours streamed in the US in the first week alone.

Tony Ayres (The Slap, Barracuda, Stateless, Fires), who co-created the show with Christian White (Relic), said he was delighted the show had found audiences in territories as disparate as the Middle East and South America.

“This is all pretty new to me, we’re in a whole new world of data,” he said. “When did we ever know that 1.46 billion minutes of viewing time even existed? But what it says to me is the show resonated with people all around the world.

Sitting pretty: Co-creator Tony Ayres.Credit:Louis Douvis

“As a filmmaker, you make the work, you make it the best it can be, you put it out there and you hope that audiences will find it,” he added. “I think this proves that we can make work in Victoria that actually competes on the world stage, and can get the attention of the world.”

Clickbait was announced in August 2019 amid much fanfare. Initially budgeted at $36 million – a figure that almost certainly blew out substantially as a result of COVID shutdowns and the subsequent introduction of COVID-Safe protocols – the show was just the second Australian drama commission for the streamer, and came amid the ongoing debate over the introduction of local content quotas on streaming services.

Though Clickbait was created by two Melbourne-based writers, shot in Melbourne (which doubled for Oakland, California), and was made by a largely local cast and crew (though three of the lead actors were American) it was treated as a foreign production by the federal government.

That allowed Netflix to claim the 16.5 per cent tax offset available to foreign productions, and triggered a $4.9 million top-up grant from the government’s Location Incentive Fund, for an effective offset of 30 per cent.

At the time, had it been classified as an Australian show, Clickbait would have been eligible only for a 20 per cent offset (those rules have now been changed, with Australian TV productions now eligible for 30 per cent).

Arts and communications minister Paul Fletcher said Clickbait generated employment for 1890 Australian cast and crew, and proved that Australia’s screen industry is world-class.

“While Clickbait has been highly successful around the world,” he said, “it will hold special appeal for Australians who get to see their own backyard presented to a global audience.”

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