Squid Game — the global hit thriller series from South Korean filmmaker Hwang Dong-hyuk — is now Netflix's biggest original series of all time, the streaming service has announced. More than 142 million Netflix households watched Squid Game in the first 28 days after its release on September 17. With that, Squid Game has beaten Regency-era London romantic drama series Bridgerton's record of 82 million viewers back in January — and in process, become the first Netflix series to surpass the 100-million mark in the first four weeks. Netflix counts watching two minutes of any episode as a view.
Netflix has frequently come under criticism for its very-relaxed methodology, especially with its original series that can run into several hours. The nine-episode Squid Game season 1 has a total runtime of 8 hours and 12 minutes. This is why Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos recently gave us a better peek behind its viewership numbers. It revealed that most Netflix subscribers were watching the likes of Bridgerton, Money Heist, Stranger Things, and The Witcher right till the end — in some cases, there was even a bit of repeat viewing.
We don't have that kind of data for Squid Game yet. The only data point we have outside of the 142 million Netflix members is that the South Korean series hit number one on Netflix's daily “Top 10” lists in 94 countries after its debut. Bridgerton had done so in 83 markets. This is no doubt helped by the fact that Squid Game is offered with subtitles and dubs in more than 30 languages on Netflix, helping it expand its reach beyond the markets it might usually get exposure in. Squid Game isn't the first though, just the biggest.
Before Squid Game, the Omar Sy-led French mystery thriller Lupin was Netflix's biggest non-English-language original hit, garnering 76 million viewers in the first 28 days after release back in January. The hit Spanish thriller series Money Heist accounts for two slots — for Money Heist seasons 3 and 4 — on Netflix's top 10 most popular series by watch time. Money Heist season 5 delivered the series' best run, with over 69 million Netflix households tuning in the first four weeks after premiere. It will be interesting to see where Squid Game lands in terms of viewing hours.
Squid Game has yet to be renewed for season 2, but that seems all but inevitable at this point.
Editor's note: On October 13, Netflix announced Squid Game had been viewed by 111 million members. On October 20, in its shareholder letter [PDF], Netflix revealed the number was even higher at 142 million.