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The most popular Netflix movies and shows of all time

A photograph of the cast of Bridgerton—the most watched show in Netflix history—the cast wear powdered wigs and ornate Regency-era corseted dresses.
Netflix
  • David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

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Netflix’s most popular series ever is Bridgerton and its most popular movie is Extraction. These figures were shown by the company’s chief, Ted Sarandon, during Recode’s Code conference in Beverly Hills, California yesterday. It’s a somewhat rare peek into the preferences of Netflix’s global subscriber base—and of course—the streaming service’s marketing and business priorities.

Netflix has been more forthcoming about its viewership figures in recent years but is still very protective about which statistics it shares publicly. One reason may be that just 3% of Netflix’s most-watched content is produced by the company, according to an industry estimate. That’s despite the company’s ability to give its original shows and movies more prominent placements on the platform’s interface.

The all-time most popular Netflix films

The most popular film on Netflix is Extraction. The 2020 action flick starring Chris Hemsworth has been watched by 99 million Netflix accounts. At the end of the quarter when the movie was released, there were about 193 million Netflix subscribers according to company financial statements. That means that more than half of all accounts watched at least two minutes of Extraction. (Netflix counts a “view” as soon as an account watches two minutes of a show).

Though fewer accounts watched Bird Box, the total time spent watching it is much higher. It was a movie that didn’t have to be good to be popular. Bird Box kept viewers watching for 22% more time than Extraction even though it is only 7% longer. The Irishman—a 3.5-hour Martin Scorsese mob movie—comes in third for time watched without cracking the top 10 for accounts.

The all-time most popular Netflix TV shows and series

Bridgerton’s first season is the most popular show ever on Netflix, followed by the first seasons of Lupin and The Witcher. Bridgerton was the first show from mega-producer Shonda Rhimes made for the company and even Netflix underestimated its popularity. The company’s initial one-month viewership estimate for the Netflix original show—which it made in the days after release—was only 63 million.

French-language Lupin taking the second spot is a bright spot for filmmakers and producers from outside the English-speaking world. Similarly, Netflix subscribers spent more time with Money Heist—a show filmed in Spanish—than any other show other than Bridgerton.

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