The Queen’s Gambit becomes Netflix’s most popular limited series
James R | On 24, Nov 2020
The Queen’s Gambit is Netflix’s most popular limited series to date, according to the streaming service.
Based on Walter Tevis’s novel of the same name, The Queen’s Gambit chronicles the life of the orphan chess champion Beth Harmon, who grows from the age of 8 to 22, struggling with addiction as well as the sexist attitudes that prevail around her. Anya Taylor-Joy stars in the drama, which is directed by Godless helmer Scott Frank.
“The show’s portrayals of addiction, alienation and brilliance are never feigned,” we wrote in our review. “The Queen’s Gambit is a thoroughly well-crafted show.”
The series premiered on Netflix on 23rd October. Now, a month on, Netflix has revealed that a record-setting 62 million households chose to watch The Queen’s Gambit in its first 28 days, with audiences tuning in from all over the globe, including Russia, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan and Australia. The show made Netflix’s 10 most-watched series in 92 countries and ranked in first place in 63 countries, including the UK, Argentina, Israel, and South Africa.
“Three years ago when Scott Frank (Godless) first approached us about adapting The Queen’s Gambit – Walter Tevis’ 1983 book about a young chess prodigy – we felt it was a compelling tale. Beth is an underdog who faces addiction, loss and abandonment. Her success – against the odds- speaks to the importance of perseverance, family, and finding, and staying true to, yourself,” said Peter Friedlander, Netflix’s VP, Original Series. “However, I don’t think any of us could have predicted that The Queen’s Gambit – and the extraordinary Anya Taylor-Joy – would become the global phenomena they are today, or our biggest limited scripted series ever.”
The figures, of course, need to be taken with more than a pinch of salt: Where before, the streaming giant classed a “view” as someone watching 70 per cent of a movie or a single episode of a show. Recently, it changed its measurements to 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.
The introduction of Netflix’s top 10 most-watched chart this year, meanwhile, has helped to foster a word-of-mouth buzz and sense of FOMO around its original titles that perform well against that metric.
The pop culture ripples, nonetheless, can be seen outside of the Netflix ecosystem. Since October, The Queen’s Gambit novel is now on The New York Times bestseller list, 37 years after its release. At a time when people are indoors more and looking for entertainment in the form of puzzles and board games, Google search queries for chess have also reportedly doubled, while enquiries for “chess sets” on eBay are also reportedly up 250 per cent and the number of new players has reportedly increased five-fold on Chess.com.