Netflix is starting to lift the veil on its viewership numbers and the methods by which it arrives at those numbers. The streaming service still keeps most of his data close to the chest, of course, but there are occasions when the site sheds some light on what subscribers are watching, particularly when those numbers are impressive.
There has been legitimate debate about how seriously to take Netflix's figures, since we have to just take their word for it most of the time and the company has some strange methods of accounting. In the past, Netflix considered any account that streamed 70 percent of a single episode to be a view for its in-house ratings process, and recently, they've updated that metric to include any time a viewer "chose to watch" a given title, for even as little as two minutes, as long as it was "long enough to indicate the choice was intentional" — whatever that means.
With all of that in mind, if you're still curious about which shows and films have drawn the most streams according to Netflix, here's a rundown of all the originals the company has claimed to be mega-successful with its subscribers.
Likely thanks to Netflix's new definition of a view, The Witcher was 76 million households strong within the first four weeks of release. Toss a coin for that.
Martin Scorsese's film is already a favorite with the critics, despite its three-plus-hour runtime and disorienting de-aging techniques. Apparently, it's also a favorite with subscribers, because the service reported that over 26 million accounts viewed at least 70 percent of the film during its first seven days on the platform.
*pours glass of wine*— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) December 10, 2019
My friends, I've got some news from the big guy at the top: THE IRISHMAN was watched by 26,404,081 accounts globally - within its first 7 days on Netflix. pic.twitter.com/abVV993CWS
Breaking Bad might have topped out at around 6 million viewers at the height of its on-air popularity, but there were a lot more people revving their engines to see its theatrical-length epilogue, El Camino. The film, which finally gave some closure to the story of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) after the events of Breaking Bad, notched more than 25 million views in its first week of release, according to Netflix.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie was watched by 25,734,392 households in its first seven days pic.twitter.com/FDyPlYc8YO— Netflix US (@netflix) October 23, 2019
Less than a week after its Fourth of July debut, Netflix revealed that the third season of Stranger Things had already claimed a viewership record with the streaming service, with 40.7 million households watching, according to its in-house calculations. Perhaps more impressive than that, Netflix also claimed that 18.2 million subscribers had already gotten through all eight episodes of the new season in its first four days alone. Over time, Stranger Things 3's audience count continued to expand, and it raked in a whopping 64 million views by October, making it the most-watched season of a Netflix original so far.
Netflix's limited series, inspired by the true story of a victim of a serial rapist who was overlooked by the police until two intrepid detectives started noticing a pattern between reports, was a massive success. Not only did it get the tacit endorsement of Elizabeth Warren, but it notched 32 million household views in its first month.
The critically-acclaimed limited series Unbelievable has been watched by 32 million member households in its first 28 days pic.twitter.com/axZcCdYyGu— Netflix US (@netflix) October 16, 2019
To celebrate the release of the show's seventh and final season, Netflix revealed that 105 million households tuned in for at least one episode of Orange Is the New Black over the course of its run, making it the service's most-watched original of all time, according to their metrics.
105m households have watched at least one episode of @OITNB. It's our most-watched original ever. As it returns for its seventh and final season, this is the show's legacy, through the eyes of the fans. pic.twitter.com/ykNXNQsxFC— Netflix UK & Ireland (@NetflixUK) July 26, 2019
Following the (pleasantly) surprising Emmy nomination of lead actress Christina Applegate, Netflix revealed that this snappy dramedy series earned 30 million views within its first month on the streaming service. The series had already been renewed for a second season at the time of that reveal.
Noah Centineo's second rom-com for Netflix after To All the Boys I've Loved Before might have suffered from a few creative hiccups, but that didn't stop people from tuning in to see the internet's boyfriend in action. Netflix revealed in July that the pic earned 48 million views in four weeks.
Ali Wong and Randall Park's much-memed romantic comedy was another movie hit for Netflix. The streaming service revealed that the quippy pic brought in 32 million views. It obviously didn't hurt that Keanu Reeves has been having a moment lately, but it was Wong and Randall's creative chemistry that made this movie work.
.@Stranger_Things 3 is breaking Netflix records!— Netflix US (@netflix) July 8, 2019
40.7 million household accounts have been watching the show since its July 4 global launch - more than any other film or series in its first four days. And 18.2 million have already finished the entire season.
Ava Duvernay's four-part biopic about the Central Park Five was also a massive success, according to Netflix's numbers. Duvernay revealed that more than 23 million accounts had streamed her miniseries about one of America's most notorious criminal injustices.
Imagine believing the world doesn't care about real stories of black people. It always made me sad. So when Netflix just shared with me that 23M+ accounts worldwide have watched #WhenTheySeeUs, I cried. Our stories matter and can move across the globe. A new truth for a new day. pic.twitter.com/4vgCo0aKR9— Ava DuVernay (@ava) June 25, 2019
The latest addition to Adam Sandler's growing film library at Netflix would have absolutely crushed it at the box office, if the same amount of people who streamed it were willing to pay money to see it in the theater. Netflix revealed that the film, which featured Sandler sharing the screen again with Jennifer Aniston, enjoyed the biggest opening weekend audience ever on the streaming service, with 30.8 million accounts — 13.3 million of which came from North America — tuning in to see the duo's European misadventures. In July, the streaming service revealed that 73 million views were counted within its first four weeks, making it the most successful installment yet in Netflix's partnership with Sandler.
🚨ADAM SANDLER AND JENNIFER ANISTON BREAKING NEWS ALERT🚨— Netflix Is A Joke (@NetflixIsAJoke) June 18, 2019
30,869,863 accounts watched Murder Mystery in its first 3 days - the biggest opening weekend ever for a Netflix Film. 13,374,914 accounts in the US and Canada, and 17,494,949 more worldwide.
Netflix's series adaptation of the Gerard Way comics racked up a whopping 45 million in the first four weeks, according to an April quarterly call from Netflix's executives. The series had already been renewed for a second season when the streaming service shared those staggering figures.
This action film boasted a lot of A-listers on its roster — including Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, Garret Hedlund, and Oscar Isaac — and cost so much money to produce (a whopping $115 million) that Netflix is reportedly changing its entire originals spending model as a result of it. However, to hear Ted Sarandos talk, the film was a whopping success for the streaming service. After execs initially boasted that the film drew 52 million views in the first four weeks, Sarandos later upped the number 62 million total viewers (and counting) as of early July.
Despite Hulu dropping its own Fyre Festival documentary before Netflix's already-announced premiere date, Netflix's version of the story still got plenty of attention. According to Netflix executives, 20 million people savored in the schadenfreude of seeing this shindig flame out within the first month of its release.
After YOU moved from its original home at Lifetime to the streaming service, Netflix revealed that over 40 million households had tuned in to find out what all that creepy Joe Goldberg fascination was about in the first four weeks of Season 1's arrival to the stream scene.
With numbers like these, it's no wonder Netflix so quickly ordered a second season of this coming-of-age series. Per Netflix, 40 million accounts were on track to stream the edgy YA series within its first month — although, as some critics quickly pointed out, those numbers came within days of the series' debut, which puts an asterisk next to that estimation.
Another series that got an official viewership boast from Netflix was the Spanish-language teen drama series Elite, which Netflix said was viewed by 20 million people in its first four weeks on the service. The series had already been renewed for a second season by the time Netflix shared those numbers.
This Sandra Bullock-led thriller gave a lot of audiences a good winter holiday scare, as Netflix claimed that more than 45 million accounts tuned in within the first week to see what was causing all the blindfolded Bird Box challenge commotion online. If there were any doubts that Netflix's claim was legitimate, Nielsen was able to provide some supporting data, although its estimate was that 26 million viewers had seen the film in the first seven days.
Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box - best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film! pic.twitter.com/uorU3cSzHR— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) December 28, 2018