During a Q&A at the International TV Academy this past spring, Netflix’s Head of Global TV Bela Bajaria was asked whether a non-English language series could one day top the list of the streamer’s most watched programs. She sounded confident that it could happen. The milestone may now be within reach as the new Korean drama Squid Game is taking Netflix by storm, raking in viewership globally at a rate that may surpass current record holder Bridgerton.
The addictive, violent survival drama, which premiered on Netflix on September 17, has transcended cultures and language barriers to reach #1 in 90 countries in 10 days — from Qatar and Oman to Ecuador and Bolivia.
Fueled by word of mouth, Squid Game entered the US Top 10 list on September 19 at #8. It climbed to #2 the next day, and hit #1 on September 21 — the first Korean original series ever to do so — where it has stayed since, crossing the one-week mark today. Its staying power in the top spot is comparable to such Netflix global hits as Bridgerton, Shadow and Bone, Ginny and Georgia and Who Killed Sara?
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Lupin, which earlier this year became the first French series to reach #1 in the U.S., is currently tied as Netflix’s second most watched original series with 76 million households who watched at least two minutes within the show’s first four weeks of release. Aided by the ever expanding Netflix subscriber base, Squid Game is on track to surpass that to become the biggest non-English language Netflix series — and possibly even Bridgerton’s record 82 million households.
“Squid Game will definitely be our biggest non-English language show in the world, for sure,” Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos said yesterday. “It’s only been out for 9 days, and it’s a very good chance it’s going to be our biggest show ever.”
Squid Game also is benefiting from the rising popularity of non-English language content among US viewers who are increasingly embracing international series. Since 2019, non-English language viewing in the US has grown by 71%, and 97%
of Netflix’s US members have chosen to watch at least one non-English title in the last year. The ramp-up is even more dramatic for K-Dramas whose US viewership has gone up over 200% between 2019 and 2021.