You know the drill: In the middle of binge-watching a TV series, you grab your phone or laptop and go straight to the show’s Wikipedia page. There, you do a dive deep into the filming locations, cast of characters and plot lines and then, 30 minutes later, finally look up when you realize you somehow made your way to the entry for “list of inventors killed by their own inventions.”
The Wikipedia rabbit hole is real, especially while watching television. The site confirmed this last week when editors revealed the most-read English Wikipedia articles of 2017 and seemed fascinated by how many had to do with pop culture, particularly TV shows.
“It’s abundantly clear that @wikipedia has become a second-screen experience for many TV viewers,” said the site’s Twitter account. “In 2017, over 200 million people stopped by @wikipedia to learn more about what they were watching, like @TheCrownNetflix’s Queen Elizabeth or @VictoriaSeries’ Queen Victoria.”
Netflix’s “The Crown,” a critically acclaimed historical drama about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (played by Claire Foy) and the British royal family, leads this trend. Queen Elizabeth’s Wikipedia page was the third-most-visited entry with 19.2 million views, behind only Donald Trump (29.6 million) and “deaths in 2017” (37.3 million). A Wikipedia editor credited the queen’s internet popularity to Prince Harry’s recent engagement to actress Meghan Markle (whose own page ranked at No. 5 with nearly 17 million views), along with the release of “The Crown,” which started streaming season 1 in November 2016.
In a discussion of the site’s top 50 articles for 2017, the editor wrote that he was most struck by the queen’s prominence on the list, which was “phenomenal when you consider the fame and ubiquity of many of the entries which fall below her.”
“As well as being testament to the terrific power of Netflix, I think that the continued strong performance should act to dispel the myth that no one cares about the monarchy,” the editor said. “It is also a sign that many readers don’t journey to Wikipedia for negative news, but rather come for knowledge.”
Traffic to the queen’s Wikipedia page peaked on Dec. 10, when the second season of “The Crown” started streaming. The entry about Princess Margaret (played by Vanessa Kirby) spiked on the same day and hit No. 37 on the list, just behind Melania Trump. (”I haven’t watched ‘The Crown,’ so I can’t really comment on the version of Princess Margaret that is drawing viewers to this site,” one Wiki editor wrote.) Prince Philip’s page hits its peak in May when Buckingham Palace announced his retirement in real life (he’s played by Matt Smith in “The Crown”); he’s No. 44, between “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Star Wars.”
The data was also a revealing glimpse into the viewing habits for Netflix shows, as the streaming service refuses to release ratings information. Wikipedia pages for Netflix’s controversial teen suicide drama “13 Reasons Why” and sci-fi hit “Stranger Things” also made the most-read list at No. 10 and No. 20, respectively.
Beyond Netflix, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” had a presence in the top 50. The Season 7 page was No. 4 overall, with the show’s overall entry close behind at No. 6.