It's no secret that Netflix has changed the way television is produced. The streaming service allows artists to have more creative control over their project, and new series are released seemingly every other week. But Netflix does have a mystery surrounding it: its ratings. The company typically doesn't reveal how popular its shows are, although it's recently been revealed that one of its returning shows had an absolutely fantastic opening weekend. The popular crime drama Narcos just returned for its third season, essentially starting from scratch with a new location, characters, and target for Pedro Pascal's Javier Peña to bring down. And that concept seemed to really excite its fandom, as a whopping 27.2 million Netflix subscribers tuned in during the fist week that Season 3 was made available.
This number is rather impressive, and shows how popular Netflix's shows have become with avid TV audiences. And unlike network or cable TV, Netflix functions internationally. This allows viewership from a variety of different countries-- something that isn't really possible for most cable networks. The international appeal may be part of the reason why Narcos has gotten such tremendous viewership in its first week. Additionally, the new set of characters includes familiar faces like Sense8's Miguel Angel Silvestre and Broad City's Arturo Castro, possibly appealing to new audiences.
The news of Narcos' wild opening weekend comes to us from THR. They used information provided by Parrot Media to compare the opening weekends of some of Netflix's most popular original shows. And for 2017, it looks like Narcos has had the biggest opening. Ozark came just behind with 15.2 million, which is similarly impressive. Because while Ozark contains a fantastic cast led by Laura Linney and Jason Bateman, the series didn't try all that hard to market itself and reach audiences. But good word of mouth is better than gold, and news about Ozark's quality quickly lit up social media platforms.
In comparison, some of the most seemingly popular Netflix originals have paled in comparison to Narcos and Ozark, despite how viral and beloved they are. Orange is the New Black only raked up 8.5 million viewers in its opening week for Season 5, while Stranger Things accrued a more respectable 10.9 million. Although those two shows are arguably more iconic, it seems that their opening weekends just weren't as exciting. This isn't to say that they don't have more overall viewership; both shows just didn't hit it quite as hard in its first weekend of streaming.
The third season of Narcos is currently available in its entirety over on Netflix. And if you've already managed to finish it (as the numbers seem to suggest), then be sure to check out our fall premiere list to plan your next binge watch.
Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.
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