Curious about the impact a show’s popularity can have on the lead actors’ fanbase, Uswitch carried out some research.
We started by surveying 4,125 avid TV viewers to create a list of the top 20 original shows on multiple streaming platforms, before establishing the main characters in each show, and the actors who played them.
Then we used the social media analyst and tracker Social Blade to find out how many new social media followers the cast members gained during the month of the show's release.
Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has gone on to become many people's favourite social media platform. Over one billion people use the photo-sharing app each month, scrolling through endless posts on their phones until their batteries are dead.
With this many people posting pictures, writing comments, and dropping likes, Instagram has the power to make or break an actor’s career, especially when their follower count starts to enter into the millions.
Whether they’re fairly anonymous or already a big star, actors in popular television shows are sure to see their Instagram followers shoot up when their new series appears online. But which actor saw the highest increase?
As a duke in the world of the societal elite, Regé-Jean Page benefitted the most from Netflix’s surprise hit of Bridgerton, gaining 3,792,607 followers in the month following the show’s drop. Madelyn Cline starred as Sarah Cameron in the TV series Outer Banks, a role that evidently resonated with a lot of viewers as 2,738,547 of them decided to keep up with the actress on Instagram. In third place is Lily Collins. With fame already inherited from her musician father, she was already posting for millions of followers, but that doesn’t make the 2,241,308 increase after Emily in Paris any less substantial. The fourth and fifth place are both claimed by Outer Banks cast members, Chase Stokes and Rudy Pankow, who each gained 2,127,365 and 1,908,760 new followers after the show’s release, respectively.
64 million people tuned in to watch The Queen’s Gambit, hoping their Wi-Fi doesn’t drop off as Beth Harmon began the final chess game that could see her victorious in Europe. Interested in the person behind the character, 1,881,913 followed Anya Taylor-Joy in the month following the release on Netflix. The subject of the affections of the Duke of Hastings, everyone wanted to know more about Phoebe Dynevor’s character in Bridgerton, Daphne. So much so, 1,744,045 of them decided to follow the actress on the ‘gram. Yet another Outer Banks alumni, Madison Bailey, was able to secure 1,615,460 new followers after the popular Netflix original was released. Felix Mallard from Ginny & Georgia was also able to secure 1,208,620 more Instagram followers after the show had aired. Rounding off the top 10 is Darren Barnet who is a star on Never Have I Ever. After the show, which was created by Mindy Kaling, dropped he gained just over one million new followers (1,058,858).
Outer Banks seems to be a great show to boost your Instagram following and Jonathan Daviss is no different. After it was released, he watched his follower numbers rise by 960,602. Maitreyi Ramakrishnan was the breakout star of Never Have I Ever and because of this role, the young actress was able to gain 830,753 new followers within the release month. Paul Mescal and Nicola Coughlan both hail from Ireland but found their fame in different streaming TV shows, Normal People and Bridgerton, respectively. Their follower increase is close too, with Mescal gaining 698,505 and Coughlan landing 641,713. Nicola Coughlan’s co-star Jonathan Bailey also saw his Instagram number dramatically rise after starring in Bridgerton. The Olivier award recipient boosted his follower count by 568,866 in the month after the first series of the hit TV show was released.
A household name and lead in many movies, Reese Witherspoon already had more than enough followers to her name on Instagram. However, she gained even more after Little Fires Everywhere was released on Hulu. The month after the premiere, she gained almost half a million more followers (451,285). Daisy Edgar-Jones led Normal People and was nominated for Critics' Choice and Golden Globe awards. Not only has she seen praise from the judging panel, but also gained 443,841 Instagram followers at the same time. Austin North and Camille Razat sit in 18th and 19th spot, after their following increased by 433,305 and 430,952 on the social media platform. However, rounding off the top 20 is Jaren Lewison, who portrayed Ben Gross on Never Have I Ever. His appearance on the teen-drama show was enough to raise his following by 392,892 within the release month. Which show saw the highest spikes in follower numbers?
We’re all guilty of wanting to know more about celebrities and following them on Instagram is one way we can do this. Not content with just settling down to watch a great show, we naturally reach for our phones to see who plays our favourite characters and hit the follow button on their social media profiles.
Outer Banks is in the top spot, with the adventure-thriller hooking the viewers and piquing their interest in the main cast. The average number of followers for the stars spiked by 1,243,699 after the release. Next up is Never Have I Ever, a coming-of-age series with a 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Over the month of its release, cast members enjoyed an average of 534,878 more followers to like their pictures on the ‘gram. Bridgerton was watched by an estimated 82 million households in the 28 days after its initial launch. The average follower spike for the main stars of this show was 491,549, with an average present follower count of 757,400 for each cast member.
Spots four and five go to Emily in Paris and The Queen’s Gambit, with the average follower spike sitting at 470,629 and 293,424, respectively.
Based on a novel by the same name, Normal People follows the relationship of two Irish students as they try to navigate their way through life. BBC Three first aired this show which resulted in an average follower spike of 233,677 for the main cast. Filled with mother-daughter drama, romance, and unexpected crime, Ginny & Georgia managed to intrigue enough people to follow the stars of the show. On average, the centre cast received 187,431 more followers. Much like the royals they portray, the cast of the fourth series of The Crown was subject to a lot of public scrutiny. In terms of Instagram exposure, the show was able to gain the stars 131,605 more followers on average.
WandaVision was a hotly anticipated series that was first streamed on Disney+. Although the main star, Elizabeth Olsen, doesn’t have an Instagram account, the other cast members still felt the success of the show. On average, they gained 56,351 new followers. Tiger King was a show that seemed to come out of the blue but quickly became a fan-favourite. The stars of the show, however reluctantly, increased their follower count by 48,168 on average. Mystery, murder, and affairs are three things guaranteed to intrigue your audience, which could suggest why The Undoing was so popular. Showing on HBO and Sky Atlantic, 1.8 million people tuned in to watch the finale and, out of these, many were interested enough to follow the main cast, gaining an average of 28,212 new followers.
Following the story of Madam C.J. Walker, the first African American self-made millionaire, Self Made also helped to accelerate the cast members’ careers. On average, 26,820 new people followed the actors’ Instagram accounts during the month of its release. A crime miniseries, Defending Jacob was produced by Apple TV+ and follows a parents’ journey to clear their son of murder. Although Chris Evans was left out of this study due to creating an Instagram account during the peak month of the show, the other cast members found their follower count increased by about 16,342. Lastly, in 20th place is Ted Lasso. An American comedy about an experienced football coach managed to score the main stars 1,666 more Instagram followers on average.
1. To carry out this study, Uswitch.com surveyed 4,125 passionate streamers across the globe to find out the ultimate top 30, most popular and streamed TV shows of the past year (March 2020 - March 2021).
2. A list was put together of 50 of the newest, most-streamed original TV shows in the last year using multiple sources and articles to create. The participants were asked to vote their favourites, thus creating the list of the ultimate top 30.
3. We then investigated and analysed each show’s Wikipedia page to create a list of the main characters from each popular show.
4. Each actor’s Instagram was then put into the media statistics tool Social Blade, to calculate their following spike from the month the show was released.
5. All Instagram and Social Blade data was collated on 9/3/21 and is subject to change.