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Netflix The Witcher promotional image with Henry Cavill as Gerald

Netflix’s The Witcher Casts Spell With Audiences In First Week

Netflix’s fantasy drama The Witcher is beating even Baby Yoda as a breakout hit in its first week of release, surpassing Disney+ pacesetter The Mandalorian in terms of audience interest worldwide among streaming shows according to Parrot Analytics.

“Netflix is out to an early lead in the highly competitive race for the next Game of Thrones,” Parrot said in a release. “The new fantasy drama The Witcher has become the most in-demand TV series in the world during its first full week of availability. ” 

The Netflix original is based on the hit book series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, which in turn spawned a celebrated trilogy of video games.

As a Netflix original episodic series, The Witcher has proved every bit as big a hit, grabbing more than 37 times the average show’s “demand expressions,” which tracks audience interest across online platforms, according to Parrot. In the United States, the show is doing even better, attracting more than 40 times the interest of an average show.

That compares quite favorably to what has been Netflix’s biggest ongoing original series, Stranger Things. Season Three of that show attracted almost 75 million demand expressions in the United States, well behind the 126.8 million of The Witcher, according to Parrot.

(Graphic courtesy of Parrot Analytics)

Even The Mandalorian, the breakout hit for Disney+ since that streaming service launched Nov. 11, couldn’t quite keep up. Parrot said The Mandalorian attracted 32.7 times the audience of an average show (and 115.6 million demand expressions in the United States).

The show that The Witcher hopes to replace in viewers’ hearts, HBO’s just-concluded blockbuster Game of Thrones, drew 26.17 times the average level of demand expressions.

The Netflix show’s immediate success suggests appetite remains strong for streaming series in the fantasy genre. Other streaming services are betting similarly, with Amazon devoting a reported $500 million to a prequel from The Lord of the Rings universe, and AT&T’s HBO Max working on possible spinoffs from Game of Thrones.

The Witcher even surpassed Eddie Murphy’s widely praised return to host Saturday Night Live, which in turn spawned endless online memes and comments, Parrot said. (It’s worth noting that Netflix also has a well-received Eddie Murphy film, Dolemite Is My Name, a biopic about 1970s comic Rudy Ray Moore and his comedy alter ego.)

Netflix releases few statistics on viewership of its shows, but in recent earnings calls has committed to disclosing more. Case in point, the company released a list of its 10 most watched movies of the year.

The list was topped by two of the company’s originals, Murder Mystery, a caper movie starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, and 6 Underground, an action adventure featuring Ryan Reynolds.

Other Netflix originals on the list include Oscar contender The Irishman by Martin Scorsese; Triple Frontier with Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaac; The Highwaymen with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson; Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron; and Secret Obsession, with Brenda Song and Mike Vogel.

But the top 10 also includes The Invisibles 2 and Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet, both animated films from Disney-owned Pixar and both headed to Disney+ soon.

The top 10 also includes Sony’s Oscar-winning animated hit Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. That too is built around a Disney-owned franchise, in this case Marvel, though the film was created by Sony Animation.