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Netflix just revealed something we thought would be a secret forever

Published Sep 28th, 2021 9:16AM EDT
Netflix Most Popular
Image: Liam Daniel/Netflix

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Streaming companies rarely release the viewership data that people in the industry and customers would want to know. They often provide some stats to demonstrate the popularity of a brand new show that’s breaking records. But that information hardly matches box office statistics or TV audience metrics. Earlier this year, Disney made a notable exception when it revealed how many million people bought Black Widow from Disney Plus Premier Access on its release date. Netflix has now followed suit by actually telling the world how many accounts have watched its most popular titles.

Netflix most popular TV shows and movies

Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos revealed the information during his talk at the Code conference this week. Per The Verge, the exec shared a few slides showing statistics for the world’s most popular streaming service.

“We’re trying to be more transparent with the market and talent and everybody,” Sarandos said. “It’s a big black box for everybody.”

As with Netflix’s previous stat disclosures, there is one big caveat with the figures in these slides. Netflix counts all the accounts that watched at least two minutes of a title during the first 28 days after release. That means not all these accounts watched the associated titles from start to finish. But it also means that Netflix isn’t counting all the people who streamed these movies and series after 28 days.

Netflix Most Popular
Most popular Netflix TV shows and movies: Accounts that watched at least 2 minutes. Image source: Netflix

With that in mind, Bridgerton remains at the top of the most popular Netflix original shows, with 82 million accounts having tuned in to watch the series during the first month. Lupin: Part 1 and The Witcher: Season 1 are tied for second place with 76 million each.

Where Netflix’s original movies are concerned, Extraction is at the top of Netflix’s “box office,” with 99 million accounts having watched at least two minutes of the Chris Hemsworth action flick. Bird Box is in second place, trailing the top title by 10 million accounts. Closing out the top three is Spenser Confidential.

It’s complicated

But Netflix also shared a different type of statistic meant to make up for the two-minute rule. The streamer revealed how many hours customers watched its original TV series and movies. This is the sort of statistic that proves some titles are far more appealing to subscribers than others.

Bridgerton retains the top spot with 625 million hours and Money Heist: Part 4 takes second place with 619 million hours watched. Third place belongs to Stranger Things 3 with 582 million hours.

Netflix Most Popular
Most popular Netflix TV shows and movies: Total hours watched. Image source: Netflix

Over on the movie side of the business, Bird Box and Extraction have swapped places. And it’s a big win for the Sandra Bullock movie, which got 282 million hours of playback. The action in Extraction was only good for 231 million hours of streaming. Coming in third place is The Irishman with 215 million hours. Coincidentally, that’s how long we felt the movie took to finish when we watched it once.

That said, it’ll still be interesting to see how many accounts watched the most popular TV shows and movies from beginning to end. But that’s the sort of statistic Netflix might never provide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.