Netflix says ‘Squid Game’ is its biggest show ever by a wide margin

Not even the most bullish Netflix executive expected “Squid Game” to capture the zeitgeist in the days leading up to its September 17 launch on the streaming platform. “We did not see that coming, in terms of its global popularity,” Netflix boss Ted Sarandos said recently. But the violent South Korean class drama has generated more ink than most well-known franchises, and now can stake claim to being Netflix’s biggest show debut ever.

According to figures released by Netflix this week, “Squid Game” had 111 million viewers worldwide in its first month of availability, a number that shattered the previous high-water mark of 82 million set last year by “Bridgerton.” As is customary with streaming services and viewership data — as well as how Netflix has operated for years — the exact totals are unclear, of course. Netflix defines a viewer as any user who has clocked at least two minutes of an episode; completion of an episode or even a series is not required for a Netflix viewer to count as a Netflix viewer.

But even accounting for the fine print, “Squid Game” is still massive, generating 29 million more viewers — no matter how they’re defined — than the breakout drama “Bridgerton.” That perhaps bodes well for its future awards chances. The costume drama scored major nominations at the Emmy Awards for Best Actor and Best Drama Series. While the ultimate Emmy Awards placement for “Squid Game” is unclear — as Marcus James Dixon wrote last week, the Netflix show has the option to submit for Primetime Emmy Awards or International Emmy Awards — it’s likely the juggernaut drama will factor heavily in the forthcoming television awards season. “Squid Game” is eligible for consideration at the Screen Actors Guild Award (where it could land a drama nomination for best ensemble) and the Critics Choice Awards.

Created by Hwang Dong-hyuk, who also directed all nine episodes, and starring Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, Kim Joo-ryoung, and Wi Ha-joon, “Squid Game” combines elements of “The Hunger Games,” “Battle Royale,” and “Running Man,” among other dystopian classics, to focus on a group of people who compete in a deadly competition for a massive cash prize.

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