Squid Game is the show to beat. Netflix announced that the Korean import saw some 142 million member households watch the unique series in its first four weeks since its launch on September 17 — that’s more viewers than any other TV show on Netflix. That popularity is part of what led to 4.38 million net subscribers being added to Netflix in the third quarter of the year.
Netflix now has over 213 million paid subscribers worldwide, up 9.4% year-over-year.
Squid Game was far from the only non-U.S. title that helped lead the way. Season 5 of Money Heist (aka La Casa de Papel) was watched by 69 million member households — prospering thanks to subtitles and dubbing — while Season 3 of Sex Education reached 55 million member households.
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Netflix is changing metrics, again
Netflix also noted in its letter to shareholders that it’s going to change the way it reports on content starting later this year. Instead of listing the number of accounts that have watched a show or movie, it’ll report the number of hours viewed. It’ll also begin to release those metrics more frequently, not just with quarterly earnings.
By the new metrics, Season 1 of Bridgerton remains the No. 1 series in its first four weeks, with 82 million accounts viewed and 625 million hours streamed. But the rest of the list shakes up a bit, with Lupin: Part 1 falling out of the Top 10 altogether when the metrics change from accounts to hours viewed.
“We think engagement as measured by hours viewed is a slightly better indicator of the overall success of our titles and member satisfaction,” Netflix said in the letter to shareholders. “It also matches how outside services measure TV viewing and gives proper credit to rewatching.”
Getting back to the new normal
Netflix said that 2022 should see a return to “a more normalized content slate,” so long as there aren’t new waves of COVID-19 or “unforeseen events that result in large-scale production shutdowns.”
It’s also expecting to see more originals released in 2022 than in the previous year. The streaming service also should be more balanced than in 2021, which was upset by the global shutdown the previous year.
What you shouldn’t expect to see immediately, though, is more free plans, like what Netflix is currently doing in Kenya. The mobile-only scheme is aimed at getting “more people to sign up for a paid membership so that they can watch Netflix on any device (mobile, TV, or laptop), access more features (i.e., downloads), and enjoy our entire catalog.”
But Netflix says it’s going to take “a year or two” to see if it actually has an effect on the bottom line.