As the streaming wars kick it up to the next level with Peacock and soon HBO Max on the battlefield, a surging Netflix on Tuesday made it apparent who is still king, in no small part thanks to the success of Tiger King and the return of Money Heist.
In an investor letter released today along with the Reed Hastings-run streamer’s Q1 earnings in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and widespread stay-at-home orders, the company said its sordid saga of the now-imprisoned Joe Exotic, big cats, betrayal and more was watched by 64 million households worldwide over its first month of release.
To give a further global context, that blockbuster number for Tiger King is slightly below Season 4 launch of the suspenseful La Casa de Papel AKA Money Heist, which dropped April 3. The latest eight-episode season of the Álex Pina-created Spanish-language hit was seen by 65 million households, according to the investor letter.
Remember, too, households are defined by the streamer in cases like these as a series, film or special being viewed for a minimum of two minutes — very different from the more traditional metrics of broadcast TV. Also, for all the hype around Tiger King and the well deserved success of Money Heist, both were far behind the results of Henry Cavill-starrer The Witcher last quarter. The December 20 launch of the first season of the fantasy drama had 76 million households, and people were only stuck at home then for Christmas.
Still, detailing a big new subscriber boost during the quarter of nearly 16 million to a global total of 183 million, Netflix certainly finds itself in strong form in an economic environment that has seen giants like Disney bleeding money and cutting workers. After several weeks of record-breaking jumps, Netflix’s stock was a pretty staid $433.83 when the market turned off the lights Tuesday.
The news of the big numbers for Tiger King follows an April 8 report by Nielsen that the March 20-launched seven-episode series tantalizingly directed by Rebecca Chaikin and Eric Goode initially had 34.3 million unique viewers in its first 10 days of release – unique viewers in this case terms those who tuned in for around four minutes of the docuseries. Further data made public on April 17 from Nielsen added that the original seven episodes of Tiger King had accumulated more than 5.3 billion streaming minutes, according to the metrics company’s SVOD Content Ratings. Netflix may keep viewership results under lock and key to be revealed at its leisure, but Nielsen also estimated that the April 12-premiering new episode “Tiger King and I,” which Joel McHale hosted, pulled in an average 4.6 million viewers on its first day.
With all that math and regardless of your take on the merits of Tiger King, the tale of private zoo intrigue also coincided with COVID-19 crisis seeing much of the world go into lockdown and small screen viewership soar globally, as Netflix admitted Tuesday.
“We’re acutely aware that we are fortunate to have a service that is even more meaningful to people confined at home, and which we can operate remotely with minimal disruption in the short to medium term,” Netflix admitted the obvious in the investor correspondence this afternoon. “Like other home entertainment services, we’re seeing temporarily higher viewing and increased membership growth,” the company added. “We expect viewing to decline and membership growth to decelerate as home confinement ends, which we hope is soon.”