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Netflix says Tiger King is as popular as Stranger Things

Yes, Tiger King really is that big

Courtesy of NETFLIX

Tiger King was already one of Netflix’s most viral shows, but now, the streamer has confirmed it’s also one of the biggest: it tied Stranger Things’ third season as one of the most watched shows on Netflix.

Netflix’s letter to shareholders notes that Tiger King was watched by more than 64 million households in its first four weeks. That’s the same number as Stranger Things’ third season, which Netflix said was the most watched season of the entire show back in October 2019. Those numbers make it a big success for Netflix, but it’s not the most watched show.

The Witcher was watched by 76 million households, making it the most-watched first season of television ever for Netflix. Still, it’s an impressive feat for a show that isn’t based on pre-existing IP like The Witcher, and received less marketing comparatively to The Witcher and Stranger Things received. Most interestingly, the fourth season of Netflix’s La Casa de Papel (or Money Heist) is projected to see 65 million streams in the first four weeks of its release, according to Netflix’s letter to shareholders. Those numbers showcase just how important content from Netflix’s international markets are to the streamer’s overall growth.

Nielsen and other ratings firms have already reported huge numbers for Tiger King, including a recent report from Nielsen that found Tiger King’s first seven episodes racked up more than 5.3 billion minutes streamed between March 23rd and March 29th. Still, Nielsen’s numbers are limited in scope, as they only count viewers in the United States. Netflix has routinely contested Nielsen’s numbers, but it has only started offering its own viewership metrics over the last couple of years. Netflix counts a view as any account that’s watched more than two minutes of a title.

Tiger King’s numbers are impressive but not overly surprising. Tiger King became an instant meme, with tributes and jokes about the show popping up on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. The fact that it was also available to more than 167 million subscribers at the time gives Netflix an advantage in a world where live TV has diminished. Tiger King wasn’t just bizarre entertainment; it was also one of the few new programs that people could watch.

Reality TV and docuseries like Tiger King and Love is Blind are two areas where Netflix is continuing to see growth, and it’s clearly where the streamer is planning to continuously invest. Docuseries and reality programming are often cheaper to make than scripted programs like Stranger Things, and customers have shown an interest in watching more of them as Netflix continues to roll out new titles. While Netflix might not roll out Tiger King 2 — although the streamer did record a one-episode after show special with Joel McHale — it’s likely the streamer will find its next viral hit in one of these two genres.