Paul Tassi Senior Contributor FORBES

If you’ve turned on Netflix lately, you have noticed a singular show planted at #1 at all times, at least in the US. That would be Manifest, the NBC mystery series that was cancelled after three seasons, and #SaveManifest fans have been trying to prevent its demise ever since.

It’s a bizarre situation, one that shows a new kind of influence fans can have over even one of the biggest media companies in the world. In short, Manifest fans have effectively gamed Netflix, planting the show at #1 in the top 10 chart for nearly a month now, which I believe either is, or is approaching a record for any series in the history of the service.

The irony is that Netflix has already passed on picking up Manifest, but its creator has not given up hope yet, and this show has seen a wild explosion in interest because of its placement on top of this chart. Keep in mind this is a series that doesn’t even have enough critical reviews to calculate a score on Rotten Tomatoes, and was cancelled by NBC for low viewership.

So what’s happening? I’ve spoken with at least a few of the main #SaveManifest organizers, and in addition to normal things like watch parties for specific episodes, the main thing going on here appears to be that a large number of fans have dedicated themselves to streaming Manifest pretty much….24/7. They leave the show running indefinitely, perhaps watching it, but more than likely not, on their TVs or devices, and this constant stream of Manifest plays and replays has kept it at this spot. I don’t know how many dedicated Manifest fans are doing this, but it’s clearly enough to take over Netflix’s top 10 list for essentially as long as they want. Sure, some of this is snowball interest by those checking out the series because it’s so high on the chart for this long, but this is entirely fan-generated.

Manifest NETFLIX

Fans of dying shows couldn’t do this before. In the pre-streaming era, if a show was getting low viewership and was either on the verge of cancellation or had already been cancelled, all fans could do was try to watch live for the remaining episodes, or do something costly like buy a bunch of DVD box sets to express interest. But now? They can simply stream the series on repeat and plant it at the #1 spot of the #1 market of the #1 streaming service in the world.

This is also pretty unique to Netflix. Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max and Disney Plus may have “what’s popular” charts, but they do not have anything like a fixed top ten list that’s directly dictated by fan interest. So this really wouldn’t be possible anywhere but Netflix.

I can’t tell if Netflix will do something about this and step in or not, or if they care at all. I feel like they might, given that it sort of makes the top 10 system look like a bit of a joke if it can be gamed by a group of dedicated fans, and it’s pushing their own originals down the list. On top of this, they already passed on the series.

If they change their mind and pick it up for a fourth season, then this tactic “works” and you’ll likely see it many times in the future. But even if someone else picks up Manifest due to all this fan interest, again, it’s hard to see this not happening for other shows, given the platform it creates for viewership.

I don’t think it’s wrong for Manifest fans to be doing this. They’re using the tools at their disposal to essentially hijack the microphone of the biggest streaming service in the world. That’s impressive, and even though I haven’t seen the show, I do sort of hope they’re rewarded for their efforts. I would be surprised if they weren’t, when all this is over.

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