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Bridgerton is Netflix’s biggest show ever, but here are the caveats

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More than 82 million households streamed the period drama in its first 28 days

Image: Netflix

Netflix has a new worldwide mega-hit on its hands with the Regency-era British drama Bridgerton, which the streaming service says is its biggest show ever with more than 82 million households tuning in to at least one partial episode in its first 28 days. It beats out the previous record-holder The Witcher, which was watched by 76 million households when its first season debuted back in December 2019.

Now, there are a few caveats to point out here. Netflix, which has always been guarded about publicly releasing metrics, counts a household as one account, including multiple profiles. And Netflix also classifies a watch as one profile on an account playing at least two minutes of one episode. So it’s likely not every single one of the accounts made it through the entire first season of Bridgerton or even an entire episode. Netflix also had fewer total subscribers when The Witcher launched, making that show’s record more impressive at the time considering it represents a larger chunk of the subscriber base.

Still, Bridgerton is a wildly successful new series for Netflix, considering more than 40 percent of the platform’s nearly 200 million subscribers opted to give it a shot. The show, adapted from Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series of historical romance novels, also hit number one in 83 countries around the world, a strong testament to the new hit’s international pull and our collective and seemingly insatiable appetite for British period dramas.

Bridgerton joins a fast-growing collection of explosively popular Netflix series that have released in the last year while the entertainment history has struggled during the coronavirus pandemic. That includes chess drama The Queen’s Gambit and French thriller Lupin, both of which were watched by more than 62 million and 70 million households, respectively.

The show, produced by hit-making showrunner Shonda Rhimes and created by Rhimes’ longtime Grey’s Anatomy collaborator Chris Van Dusen, has already been renewed for a second season.

“I think the show really provides an incredible escape for audiences at a time where that’s exactly what’s needed,” Van Dusen said of the show’s popularity after its second season renewal, according to Deadline. “Bridgerton is this lavish, vibrant, steamy Regency love story; it is about romance, love and joy; I think all of those things are really universal themes people are responding to.”