Netflix is touting the success of its newest hit series ‘The Witcher’, which is, without a doubt, a hit. Netflix doesn’t release its streaming numbers and the information it does release can’t be verified by an outside source, but when the remixes of “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” started popping up, it was clear this show had struck a chord. At the end of December, Netflix announced that ‘The Witcher’, which had only been available to stream for less than two weeks at that point, was its second-most-watched original series of 2019. Some were skeptical.
Now, in a fourth-quarter presentation to shareholders, Netflix has declared that ‘The Witcher’ is set to become the most-watched first season of an original show on the service ever! But what isn’t being divulged as openly is that Netflix has taken to using a loose definition of “watching.” Viewers who have “watched” S1 of ‘The Witcher’ now include anyone who “chose to watch and did watch for at least 2 minutes — long enough to indicate the choice was intentional.”
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For fans of shows that Netflix cancelled with seemingly little concern in the past, the service used to consider “watching” as streaming at least 70% of a season. So using that old formula, viewers would have had to have streamed over 5½ episodes of the 8 episode first season to qualify… which is, y’know, just slightly more than two minutes.
In another attempt to convince shareholders (and the world) of just how popular ‘The Witcher’ is, Netflix used Google to monitor searches for this show in comparison to others that either debuted or launched new seasons around the same time– Disney+’s ‘The Mandalorian’, Amazon’s ‘Jack Ryan’, and Apple TV+’s ‘Morning Show’. ‘The Witcher’ came out way on top, which isn’t much of a surprise when compared to ‘Jack Ryan’ or ‘Morning Show’. But as the fine print on that report notes, this is based on worldwide activity, while Disney+ is only available in the U.S., Canada, The Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. So subtracting out the countries that don’t get Disney+, ‘The Mandalorian’s popularity spikes considerably. However, in all fairness, even with that adjustment, the two shows perform nearly equally.
BUT this is just based on Google searches, not streaming. Like Netflix, Disney+’s numbers aren’t subject to disclosure. So correlating Google searches to people actually watching the show is a stretch at most.
Each episode of ‘The Witcher’ costs a reported $15 million to create. As far as viewer reaction, it has been divisive. Some love it, some loathe it, and others fall somewhere in between. Either way, Netflix has already ordered a second season of eight episodes, so there is more on the way, whether folks want it or not. Maybe then we’ll get a more accurate accounting of just how popular this show is, as at that point, anyone who tuned out after two minutes won’t likely be back for more.
What did you think of ‘The Witcher’ S1? Will you tune in to S2?