Reality shows have become a staple of modern-day television, and Netflix has been cashing in on their popularity. Last year, the streaming giant announced that it's adapting the British reality competition series The Circle for U.S. audiences, and ahead of its American premiere on Netflix, the reality show premiered its second season to huge numbers on Britain’s Channel 4.
Much like other British reality shows, such as The Great British Bake Off and Love Island, The Circle is also making its way across the ocean and to American audiences (or at least its premise is). Lucky for Netflix, The Circle Season 2 has already proven to be wildly popular with British audiences. Per Deadline, the reality competition series debuted to 1.3 million viewers when it launched on Tuesday, September 24. That’s 30% higher than the audience that watched its Season 1 premiere, which aired on Channel 4 in September of 2018.
The show is drawing in many younger viewers, with about half of the 1.3 million audience members coming from the 16-34 age group; that stat jumped up by 26% compared to last year’s premiere. The strong younger demographic isn’t surprising when the premise of the show is factored in, since The Circle is essentially a social media-based competition show that has been compared a lot to Big Brother, while also giving off Catfish vibes.
Though the contestants live in one location, they're in separate rooms and can only interact with each other through The Circle, which works exactly like an app. The spectacle of The Circle stems from the fact that the competitors are judged solely on their popularity with audiences. The less popular you are, the less likely you are to win. It’s like if people were able to win money based only on the likes garnered from their Instagram posts. I'd lose that competition.
The Circle also brings to mind the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive,” starring Bryce Dallas Howard. In it, everyone’s lives were judged by their social media platform status. For example, posting cute cat videos would win over a lot of people and would raise the user's score, which ultimately led to a better lifestyle. It’s scary to think that there’s now a reality show that essentially has a similar premise.
Netflix's deal included the ability to adapt the reality show in three different markets: the U.S., France, and Brazil. The fact that The Circle is already so popular in the U.K. ultimately bodes well for Netflix, though the streaming service probably won’t be releasing its audience numbers to the public. What might make things interesting is that reality shows that follow the competition format have historically aired on network shows while adhering to a weekly format.
On Netflix, that presumably wouldn't be the case, especially given the streaming giant’s affinity toward the binge-watching model they’ve had for years now. However, the service did opt to put out weekly episodes of Great British Baking Show, as opposed to everything at once, so perhaps The Circle will be another exception along those lines.
The American remake of The Circle does not yet have a Netflix premiere date. Can’t wait for a new reality show? Be sure to check out the full list of every new and returning competition show premiering this Fall.