Netflix’s Lupin is its most popular original show in more than a year – CNET

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Netflix said it expects Lupin, a French-language heist show, to bring in the biggest audience for one of its series in more than a year. 

Netflix

Netflix‘s latest hit show (at least, according to Netflix) is Lupin, a French-language heist series pulling in audience numbers unseen for a Netflix original show since The Witcher in December 2019. Lupin‘s appeal is crossing language barriers, too, seeming to draw in more viewers than La Casa de Papel. That Spanish-language program, titled Money Heist for English-speaking audiences, previously reigned as Netflix’s biggest non-English-language show. 

Netflix said Tuesday that it projects Lupin will be watched by more than 70 million accounts within its first four weeks of release. To put that in context, The Witcher — Netflix’s most-watched original series since the company started reporting these stats — hit 76 million accounts. The third season of La Casa de Papel was watched by roughly 65 million accounts in its first four weeks, the company projected at the time. (We can’t compare Lupin’s audience with earlier Netflix top shows, like its retro sci-fi hit Stranger Things, that were released before late 2019. That’s when Netflix switched its measurement metric, so the comparisons aren’t apples-to-apples.)

Though Lupin is a French-language show, it has been topping popularity rankings in countries with different native languages. It has hit No. 2 on the company’s US popularity charts, Netflix said, and it has ranked No. 1 in dozens of other countries including Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Vietnam and the Philippines. (Presumably, France too.) 

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s co-CEO and the company’s head of content, said that Netflix’s all-you-can-eat subscription model lowers the risks for members “to be much more adventurous about what they watch.” Subscribers may hear about a popular show like Lupin, already included in their subscriptions, and give it a shot despite previous hesitancy about foreign-language programming. 

“They push play, and 10 minutes later, all of a sudden, they like foreign-language television. So it’s a really incredible evolution,” he said Tuesday evening during a call to discuss Netflix’s fourth-quarter earnings results. “You can throw out a lot of preconceived notions about what works and what doesn’t, because those are mostly established by business trends, not by consumer trends,” he said. 

Netflix’s other new viewership numbers are listed below. 

Other top titles: Bridgerton, The Midnight Sky

Netflix had already spilled the stats earlier this month for some of its biggest titles at the end of last year. Bridgerton and The Midnight Sky were both released in December when Netflix tends to book its most-watched titles of the year, and they had the largest audiences of the quarter, at least according to Netflix’s own cherry-picked disclosures. 

The Midnight Sky, a sci-fi/drama film directed by and starring George Clooney, was projected by Netflix to reach 72 million accounts in its first four weeks, and Bridgerton, a soapy drama set in Regency England from uber-producer Shonda Rhimes, was projected to reach 63 million accounts. 

On Tuesday, Netflix upped its expectations for the viewership of We Can Be Heroes, a family film directed by Robert Rodriquez about the children of superheroes saving their parents (and the planet). After Netflix earlier projected it would reach 44 million accounts in its first four weeks, the company said Tuesday it could hit 53 million. 

But Netflix was coy about the audience size for its latest season of The Crown. Netflix said that season four of its historical drama series about the British royal family reached a new viewership high for the series and that more than 100 million accounts have watched the franchise since its initial release. (For what it’s worth, Netflix said a year ago that The Crown’s third season was watched by 21 million accounts and that 73 million accounts had watched the franchise up to that point.)

For years, Netflix was notoriously tight-lipped about viewership. The creator of House of Cards, which put Netflix’s original content efforts on the map, once said the company wouldn’t even share viewership metrics with him. But within the last two years, Netflix has grown much chattier about the popularity of its shows and movies to help recruit talent and stoke buzz. Netflix also added a top-trending ranking to its service, so people can see what the most popular titles streaming on Netflix in their country are on any given day. 

Netflix popularity, explained 

Netflix’s popularity figures need disclaimers. For one, they aren’t independently verified, nor are they backed up by detailed data from the company. Netflix is in the unique position that it can cherry-pick highlights, and we don’t have much independent data to verify them. Traditional media companies, by contrast, have their box office performance independently monitored, and they’re at the mercy of Nielsen ratings as the barometer for TV shows.

Speaking of Nielsen: Don’t compare Netflix’s numbers to metrics like Nielsen ratings or box office figures. It’s tempting to compare how many people watched a Netflix show versus one on regular TV, or to estimate how much money a big movie on Netflix would’ve made at the box office. But these metrics aren’t even close to comparable because the methods behind them differ wildly.

Last year, Netflix switched to a new viewership metric. Netflix now counts a title as “watched” if you choose to watch it and let it play for just two minutes. With some shows or movies, you can turn them off before you even hit the main title sequence — and it still counts as a view. 

The following are the latest viewership numbers for Netflix’s programs. All the following figures are viewership in a title’s first four weeks of release, except in cases when Netflix projected total viewership before the title actually reached the four-week mark (which are noted).

  • Lupin — 70 million accounts projected. 
  • Holidate, a Christmas-themed rom-com movie — 68 million accounts.
  • The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two, a sequel Santa Claus adventure movie —  61 million accounts.
  • We Can Be Heroes, the kids-of-superheroes action film — 53 million accounts projected.
  • Over the Moon, an animated film about a girl traveling to a mythical land — 43 million accounts.
  • Barbarians, a German historical action series —  37 million accounts.
  • Just Another Christmas, Netflix’s first Portuguese-language holiday film —  26 million accounts.
  • Selena: The Series, a Spanish language show about the famed singer —  25 million accounts.
  • Sweet Home, a Korean-language horror show —  22 million accounts.
  • Alice in Borderland, a Japanese-language sci-fi thriller series —  18 million accounts.

Past popularity rankings

So how do those titles stack up against the ones that came before? Netflix’s previous viewership stats for past titles are listed below. Again, all the following figures are for the titles’ first four weeks of release using the two-minute metric, except for Netflix’s projections where noted:

  • Extraction, an action movie starring Chris Hemsworth — 99 million accounts.
  • Bird Box, a postapocalyptic movie starring Sandra Bullock — more than 89 million accounts.
  • Spenser Confidential, an action-comedy movie starring Mark Wahlberg — 85 million accounts.
  • 6 Underground, a Michael Bay explosion-fest starring Ryan Reynolds — 83 million accounts.
  • The Old Guard, an action-thriller movie — 78 million accounts.
  • Enola Holmes, a period detective caper film — 76 million accounts projected.
  • Season 1 of The Witcher, a fantasy series based on an existing franchise of books and video games — 76 million accounts. 
  • Project Power, a dark superhero movie — 75 million accounts.
  • Murder Mystery, a comedy movie starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston — 73 million accounts.
  • The Midnight Sky, a sci-fi movie directed and starring George Clooney — 72 million accounts projected.
  • Kissing Booth 2, a teen rom-com flick — 66 million accounts.
  • Season 4 of La Casa de Papel, or Money Heist, a Spanish language heist thriller series — projection for 65 million.
  • The Irishman, a period epic about the Mafia, directed by Martin Scorsese — 64 million accounts.
  • Tiger King, a viral docuseries — 64 million households. 
  • Triple Frontier, an action/heist movie starring Ben Affleck — 63 million accounts.
  • Bridgerton, a soapy drama series from producer Shonda Rhimes — 63 million accounts projected.
  • The Queen’s Gambit, a limited series about a chess prodigy — 62 million accounts. 
  • The Wrong Missy, a romantic-comedy movie starring David Spade and Lauren Lapkus — 59 million accounts.
  • The Platform, a Spanish sci-fi horror movie — 56 million accounts.
  • Season 2 of You, a psychological thriller series — projection for 54 million accounts, based on first weeks’ viewing since its Dec. 26 release.
  • American Murder: The Family Next Door, a true-crime documentary film — 52 million accounts projected.
  • Seasons 1 and 2 of Cobra Kai, a reboot series of The Karate Kid — 50 million accounts.
  • The Perfect Date, a teen romantic-comedy movie — 48 million accounts.
  • Season 1 of Ratched, a psychological thriller series — 48 million accounts.
  • Season 2 of Umbrella Academy, a superhero series — 43 million accounts.
  • Klaus, an animated holiday film nominated for an Oscar — 40 million accounts.
  • Season 5 of Lucifer, a fantasy police-procedural series — 38 million accounts.
  • The Social Dilemma, a documentary about social-media companies — 38 million accounts
  • Season 1 of Love Is Blind, a dating competition series — 30 million. 
  • Season 3 of The Crown, a historical drama series — 21 million accounts (and Netflix said 73 million accounts have watched The Crown since the series launched).

Prior to this year, Netflix counted views differently. Netflix wouldn’t start counting something as “watched” until you got through 70% of the first episode of a series or of a film’s total runtime. Netflix says the new two-minute threshold is more fair to all titles, regardless of their length. But it also means the new stats have inflated viewership numbers by about one-third compared with the old ones. 

These are previous viewership stats under the old rules. They’re figures Netflix released (or projected, where noted) for the first four weeks of release. 

  • Stranger Things season 3, a retro sci-fi series — 64 million households. 
  • Umbrella Academy, a superhero series — 45 million households.
  • Tall Girl, a teen rom-com movie — 41 million households.
  • Sex Education, a British teen dramedy show — more than 40 million households.
  • The Highwaymen, a period crime movie starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson — more than 40 million households.
  • Secret Obsession, a movie mystery about a young wife with amnesia — 40 million views.
  • Our Planet, a BBC-style nature docu-series — 33 million households.
  • Always Be My Maybe, a comedy film with Ali Wong and Randall Park — 32 million households.
  • Unbelievable, a true-crime miniseries about the victims of a serial rapist and the detectives hunting him down — 32 million accounts.
  • Dead to Me, a dramedy series with Christina Applegate — 30 million households.
  • Otherhood, a movie about a band of moms visiting their adult sons by surprise — 29 million households. 
  • When They See Us, a buzzy limited series from creator Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five case — 25 million households. 
  • Bodyguard, a BBC-World Productions series that previously aired in the UK — 23 million member households.
  • FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, a documentary film about the Fyre Fest debacle — more than 20 million homes.
  • Élite, a Spanish-language high-school soap series — more than 20 million member households. 
  • Baby, an Italian teen drama series — more than 10 million homes.
  • The Protector, Netflix’s first Turkish original series — more than 10 million households.

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