Netflix shows: What is the most viewed TV show so far?

STRANGER THINGS (L to R) Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler and Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022
STRANGER THINGS (L to R) Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler and Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022 /

For the longest time, we didn’t have a clear idea of how popular any given show on Netflix was. Sure educated guesses could be made based on what shows were renewed, how quickly they were renewed, and what kind of cultural impact a show was making by looking at social media mentions.

But for a long time, the exact numbers as to how well a Netflix show was doing, seemed to be a closely guarded secret.

The most viewed show on Netflix

Last November, Netflix began to release viewership numbers for their movies and TV shows, finally giving us a glimpse as to how much some of their biggest shows were actually being watched. Their website gives us weekly breakdowns of what shows and movies are the most viewed on the streaming platform each week.

From the data on the website, we can see what the most viewed Netflix shows of all time are. The Top Five most viewed series of all time are as follows:

Squid Game (season 1)-1.65 billion hours.
Stranger Things (season 4)-1.35 billion hours.
Wednesday, (season 1)-1.24 billion hours
Dahmer: Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story-856.2 million hours.
Money Heist (part 5)-792.2 million hours.

Of course, there’s still a lot to unpack. As you can see, Netflix doesn’t count the number of people who view any given program, but the number of hours that a program is viewed.

One person watching the entirety of Wednesday three times in a row, is just as good as three different accounts watching the same show, as far as their metrics are concerned. You might also notice that certain seasons of each show are specified.

Netflix considers each season of a show to be a different entry. If we were to expand the list, you would see that the next two spots on the list are taken up by seasons 1 and 2 of Bridgerton.

Stranger Things shows up on the list again, with the third season taking the 9th place on the list.

But it’s more complicated than that

It’s also worth noting that while these numbers are viewed as the all time hours watched for each of these shows, that’s not entirely accurate either. Netflix only counts the viewership of each show for the first 28 days after the show premieres.

After that, the number is set for that season, so it doesn’t matter how many times you watch season 4 of Stranger Things to get ready for season five, it will never get to take first place. This really highlights how much Netflix values the instant success of a series when considering whether or not a show should be considered successful or not.

“But what about split seasons?” you might be asking. Netflix has recently started splitting a season in half, with two (or more) different batches of episodes dropping several weeks apart.

According to CNET, “If a new season releases its episodes in two parts on different dates, Netflix counts the watch time of the first volume’s episodes for their first 28 days, then it counts the watch time of the second volume’s episodes for their first 28 days.” It can be confusing to try and figure out what makes a successful show in the era of streaming.

It can seem like a successful show that you love is canceled, while a show you never heard of, gets renewal after renewal. While a lot of factors go into what makes a show a success or not, the numbers that Netflix has started to give shows what is most viewed on their platform on any given week.

They have started to yield useful information that lets us take a peek into what can help a show succeed in the eyes of Netflix or be doomed into single season obscurity.

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Did one of your favorite shows make the list? What is your favorite Netflix TV show?

Share with us your answers in the comments below!