Netflix’s five biggest hits and flops

Netflix forged a new age in the entertainment industry, popularizing streaming and forcing out the likes of Blockbuster.

Its catalog boasts shows that have become household names, including The Crown, Squid Game, Tiger King and Stranger Things.

Yet much of its reams of content have also been unsuccessful, prompting critics to question if its commissioners have lost touch – and take aim at Netflix’s failure to produce enough hit shows for its now millions of subscribers.

Here are Netflix’s biggest hits and worst flops:

Netflix’s most watched in UK

1: Squid Game – September 2021 (UK)

It was an unlikely hit: a South Korean show written in 2009, which had failed to be snapped up.

Yet once it hit the screens, Squid Game quickly became one of the most talked about shows of 2021.

Costing an estimated $21m (£16m) to make, Squid Game remains Netflix’s biggest show globally.

It drew in around 132m viewers within the first 23 days of airing and, according to the latest figures, around 1.7bn hours of the show was watched within its first 28 days.

2. Bridgerton Series 2 – March 2022 (UK)

The hotly-awaited second series of Bridgerton only aired late last month, but has already become the streaming giant’s most popular English language series of all time.

Within the first month, viewers watched 627m hours of the regency-style period drama, which follows Lord Antony Bridgerton’s quest to find a wife and is based on the second in the novels written by Julia Quinn.

The production is part of a mega-deal struck with producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes to develop shows for Netflix, said to be worth more than $100m.

3. Bridgerton Series 1 – December 2020

Unsurprisingly, the first series of Bridgerton attracted a similarly significant audience: viewers binged on 625m hours of the steamy show in its first 28 days.

It was released at the height of lockdown, in December 2020, when families were forced to cancel Christmas plans and remain inside.

With a reported budget of around $7m an episode, little was spared on the lavish sets and lace outfits, resulting in Bridgerton being renewed for three more series.

4. Money Heist Part 4 – April 2020

This Spanish thriller’s fourth series proved to be its most popular, documenting the journey of a group of bank robbers led by a criminal genius known as the Professor.

The fifth and final series, which aired last September, failed to top its viewing figures – some 395m hours were watched in the first 28 days compared to 619m for the fourth series.

Netflix reportedly paid just $2 an episode when it bought the show from Spanish channel Antena 3.

5: Stranger Things Series 3 – July 2019

Stranger Things has become among Netflix’s best-known shows since it first premiered in 2016 – and it is also one of the most expensive to make.

Estimates suggest it cost around $6m per episode when it first aired, but now could be as much as $12m. The third series is the latest to be released, as production halted due to Covid-19, and the next series is set to land on Netflix next month.

Netflix’s biggest flops in the UK

1. Space Force – May 2020

Netflix was said to have paid Steve Carrell around $1m per episode of this workplace comedy set in space.

But for viewers, it was not money well spent. Reviews of the 10-part show were scathing, despite a cast including Lisa Kudrow from Friends and John Malkovich.

Despite the backlash, Netflix opted to renew the show for a second series which premiered in February this year.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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