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The Witcher was one of the most talked-about Netflix series of 2019 as a fantasy saga starring Henry Cavill, and the buzz didn’t die down once the reviews started coming in (and the showrunner reacted to them). Now, numbers suggest that The Witcher could be the streaming giant’s biggest original series premiere ever since its December 20, 2019 debut, but there’s a catch. Those numbers come from Netflix, and Netflix alone.
A whopping 76 million customer households decided to watch The Witcher within the first four weeks after it released on December 20, according to Netflix (via Variety). These reported numbers from the streaming giant, which does not regularly share viewership data, suggest that around 46% of Netflix’s total subscribers as of the end of 2019 watched the fantasy saga in those four weeks.
Considering The Witcher is arguably Netflix’s most buzz-worthy release since Stranger Things Season 3 in July 2019, impressive numbers were to be expected. That said, consumers should keep some recent developments in mind before swooning over these 76 million/46% figures. Netflix has changed its measurement for viewers that count toward the total.
Netflix’s previous method of measuring what constitutes a view was finishing at least 70% of a TV episode or film, which I always felt was fair enough. How many people are going to quit watching an episode or movie if they’ve already sat through nearly three quarters of it? Now, however, Netflix’s new measurement for what constitutes a view is if somebody watches at least two minutes of something, which the streamer deems enough time to “indicate the choice was intentional.”
So, does the 76 million and 46% of subscribers really represent the total viewership of The Witcher in the first four weeks after its release, or are those numbers skewed by people who accidentally started streaming the show, people who gave up after more than two minutes but well below 70%, and/or other variables that really shouldn’t be taken as a sign of fandom?
Netflix itself reports that the totals under the new measurement are approximately 35% higher on average than viewership under the 70% measurement, so it’s clear that the changes impact the reported data. At the very least, the numbers moving forward shouldn’t necessarily be deemed comparable to numbers Netflix announced for earlier releases.
None of this is to say that a whole lot of people didn’t check out The Witcher, and Netflix is already moving forward with The Witcher Season 2 and a Witcher anime movie, so however many millions watched the first season from beginning to end are in for more of Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri’s adventures.
For now, you can check out the eight-episode first season of The Witcher streaming on Netflix. Season 2 isn’t slated for release until some point in 2021, but the good news is that the streamer has already scheduled a whole bunch of originals for 2020. Swing by our 2020 Netflix premiere schedule for your current and upcoming options.