Netflix says ‘Squid Game’ now ‘our biggest TV show ever’ with 142-M household viewers

Published October 21, 2021, 9:53 AM

by Jonathan Hicap

“Squid Game,” the Korean series that captured the attention of millions of people worldwide, is now Netflix’s biggest show of all time.

In a letter to shareholders dated Oct. 19 to announce its earnings for the third quarter of 2021, Netflix praised “Squid Game,” which stars 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” (Netflix)

“Squid Game” centers on 456 debt-ridden people who join deadly games to win a prize amounting to 45.6 billion won (about $38.8 million).

According to Netflix, 142 million household viewers have watched “Squid Game” in its first four weeks since its release on Sept. 17.

“Netflix is a global, direct-to-consumer service which enables creators to reach broader audiences – and gives our members an even greater choice of stories to enjoy,” the video streaming company told shareholders.

According to Netflix, “There is no better example of this than Squid Game, a unique Korean story that first captured the zeitgeist in Korea and then globally.”

“Released on September 17, it has become our biggest TV show ever. A mind-boggling 142m member households globally have chosen to watch the title in its first four weeks,” it added.

Netflix said the popularity of “Squid Game” is “truly amazing” as it ranked No. 1 in 94 countries including the US and consumer items will be released.

“Like some of our other big hits, ‘Squid Game’ has also pierced the cultural zeitgeist, spawning a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit and memes/clips on TikTok with more than 42 billion views. Demand for consumer products to celebrate the fandom for Squid Game is high and those items are on their way to retail now,” it said.

(From left) Anupam Tripathi, Park Hae-soo, Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon in “Squid Game” (Netflix)

Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO, talked about how Netflix acquired “Squid Game” during a video interview about the earnings.

“Squid Game, as Reed [president and co-CEO Wilmot Reed Hastings] pointed out, got — was picked up a couple of years ago from the Korea team who did recognize it to be one of what they thought would be their biggest title this year. So good that they did,” he said.

Sarandos added, “But I can’t tell you that we had the same eyeball on it to tell you that it was going to be the biggest title in our history around the world. And to your point, the growth — the viewing outside of Korea has been phenomenal and everywhere, everywhere we operate. So if you look at these numbers, they are — the internal viewing looks a lot like a local language show in any country you look at it. It was enormously successful.”

“And that’s 10 years trying to sell the show. Our team recognized something that nobody else did and created an environment for that creator to make a great show. So how something can go viral is really hard to predict, but it’s super powerful when it happens, and to show us to deliver the goods to be able to deliver that much viewing and you have people talk about it in such short hand that you can spoof it on ‘Saturday Night Live’ because it’s so in the zeitgeist. There, I said it for you. And it happens,” he said.

According to him, “And we feel it when it’s happening and you know when it’s happening. It’s a little hard to predict sometimes. Sometimes you think you’ve got lightning in a bottle and you’re wrong. And sometimes, you think you’ve got a great Korean show that turns out to be lightning in the bottle for the world.”

“But remember, it’s — that came from Korea, which is super phenomenal, but we’ve had successes not on that scale, but like that, with La Casa de Papel from Spain, with Lupin from France, with the film Blood Red Sky from Germany, from Sex Education in the UK, where the stories of the world can increasingly come from anywhere in the world. And this is a thing that we really work on day in and day out,” Sarandos added.