Competition has never been fiercer for Netflix. First, the streamer had to contend with the arrival of Disney+ last fall. And now that the coronavirus pandemic has put theaters temporarily (if not indefinitely) out of business, it must also share the market with other entertainment giants like NBCU and HBO as they get ready to launch their own platforms in the next few months.
Despite all odds, however, the original still reigns supreme. In an earnings report released earlier this week, Netflix displayed ratings that would make its younger siblings squirm with jealousy. Unsurprisingly, the documentary series Tiger King, which follows the rise and fall of big cat lover Joe Exotic, has been watched by over 64 million households worldwide within the first month of its release.
As difficult as it is to believe, though, Tiger King is not even Netflix’s highest rated program. That honor belongs to the fourth season of La Casa de Papel. Better known around the lazy “English, please” part of the world as Money Heist, the crime thriller got over 65 million households to tune in since the first episode aired on April 3rd.
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Monstrous though these numbers may seem at first, they start to look a lot smaller when you consider how liberally Netflix defines household viewership. Contrary to broadcast television, the streaming service considers a subscriber to have been ‘hooked’ so long as they watch a program for a minimum of two minutes, even when they tune out by the third.
The ratings shrink down further still when you compare them to some of Netflix’s past hits. Their Henry Cavill-led high fantasy series The Witcher, for example, which launched its first season on December 20th, drew in over 76 million households during the Holidays.
Even though Tiger King and Money Heist may not be breaking any records, their popularity stands testament to Netflix’s versatility in times of crisis. Indeed, whereas major studios like Disney are laying off their employees by the bulk, the streaming service continues to turn out quality content by the dozen, and all while paying its honest workers.