The Witcher: Netflix’s biggest series to date?
James R | On 22, Jan 2020
The Witcher is on course to be Netflix’s biggest series to date, with more than 70 million households choosing to watch the fantasy epic.
Based on the best-selling books, The Witcher is an epic tale of fate and family. The story of the intertwined destinies of three individuals in the vast world of The Continent, where humans, elves, witchers, gnomes, and monsters battle to survive and thrive, and where good and evil is not easily identified.
Henry Cavill stars as Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter who struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts. But when destiny hurtles him toward a powerful sorceress, Yennefer (Anya Chalotra), and a young princess, Ciri (Freya Allan), with a dangerous secret, the three must learn to navigate the increasingly volatile Continent together.
With the books already spawning a franchise of video games, Netflix’s choice of source material was a calculated move after the end of Game of Thrones, as broadcasters and streamers look to fill the gap left behind by HBO’s smash hit. According to Netflix’s own figures, 76 million member households chose to watch the series during its first four weeks. Sales of The Witcher books and games are also reported to have spiked, while the song Toss a Coin to Your Witcher from Episode 2 went viral online and has even received a release on Spotify and other music platforms (along with the rest of the show’s soundtrack).
Of course, the figures from Netflix are worth taking with a pinch of salt. Where before, the streaming giant classed a “view” as someone watching 70% of a movie or a single episode of a show. Now, it’s changed its measurements that it says is more accurate.
Now, Netflix will count the number of times that an account chooses to watch a title for “at least 2 minutes”, which it deems as “long enough to indicate the choice was intentional”, as opposed to an accidental click.
“As we’ve expanded our original content, we’ve been working on how to best share content highlights that demonstrate popularity. Given that we now have titles with widely varying lengths – from short episodes (e.g. special at around 15 minutes) to long films (e.g. The Highwaymen at 132 minutes), we believe that reporting households viewing a title based on 70 per cent of a single episode of a eries or of an entire film, which we have been doing, makes less sense. We are now reporting on households (accounts) that chose to watch a given title.”
The mythology is not dissimilar to BBC iPlayer’s measurement of “requests”, which include streams or downloads of a title, or YouTube view counts.
Conveniently, it also means that Netflix’s numbers will be much higher, about 35 per cent higher than the previous metric – 45 million households chose to watch Our Planet, using the new metric, compared with 33 million under the prior system.