Netflix’s mighty algorithms were no match for the global pop culture phenomenon that Bridgerton has become. The Regency-era romance, already renewed for a second season, not just exceeded Netflix’s original viewership projections, it blew them out of the water.
The final numbers are in, and Season 1 of Bridgerton was watched by a record 82 million households around the world (partially or in its entirety.) That is a whopping 19M households higher than the four-week projection Netflix issued 10 days into the Shondaland series’ run (63 million), at the time the streamer’s fifth biggest launch in history.
Bridgerton, whose massive wave of popularity is showing no signs of subsiding, is now Netflix’s biggest series ever by a wide margin. It pushed down to No.2 previous record holder, fantasy hit The Witcher (76M in its first 28 days).
That is an astonishing achievement, which Bridgerton celebrated with a “thank you” video to fans (you can watch it below). Still, we should put the costume drama’s record viewership in perspective.
Bridgerton, as well as fellow recent Netflix standouts Lupin (70M) and The Queen’s Gambit (62M) all posted massive numbers in an ever expanding Netflix universe, a process which was accelerated by the pandemic. (Five of Netflix’s six biggest series to date have launched since the start of the pandemic in March.)
For instance, Bridgerton was watched by 82M of the record 200M Netflix Q4 2020 subscribers, or 41%.
The Witcher scored 76M households when Netflix’s subscriber base was 167M a year ago. That is 46%. Even Stranger Things‘ third season in July 2019 (64M) is comparable when taking into account that Netflix was in 158M homes then; the season was seen by 40.5% of them in the first 28 days.
Bridgerton, created by Shonaland veteran Chris Van Dusen based on Julia Quinn’s novels, ranked #1 overall in 83 countries including the US, UK, Brazil, France, India and South Africa, and made the top 10 in every country except Japan.
The series’ timing likely played a role in its breakout success. It arrived amid the latest deadly Covid surge with people in many countries exhausted after months in quarantine.
“I think the show really provides an incredible escape for audiences at a time where that’s exactly what’s needed,” Van Dusen said last week when the series Season 2 renewal was announced. ”Bridgerton is this lavish, vibrant, steamy Regency love story; it is about romance, love and joy; I think all of those things are really universal themes people are responding to.”
Season 1, based on the first book in Quinn’s series, The Duke and I, centered on the complicated romance between the eldest Bridgerton daughter, Daphne, played by Phoebe Dynevor, and the Duke of Hastings Simon Bassett, portrayed by Regé-Jean Page.
Season 2, which starts production in the spring in the U.K., will chronicle the pursuit of a suitable marriage for the eldest Bridgerton sibling, Anthony, played by Jonathan Bailey, as chronicled in the second book of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, The Viscount Who Loved Me.
Netflix’s Bridgerton has redefined the period drama and romance genres, breaking conventions on race while making global stars out of Page and Dynevor. The duo who could return in Season 2, Van Dusen said last week.
The series also stars Nicola Coughlan (“Penelope Featherington”), Claudia Jessie (“Eloise Bridgerton”), Ruby Barker (“Marina Thompson”),Adjoa Andoh (“Lady Danbury”), Golda Rosheuvel (“Queen Charlotte”), Luke Thompson (“Benedict Bridgerton”), Luke Newton (“Colin Bridgerton”), Ruby Stokes (“Francesca Bridgerton”), Will Tilston (“Gregory Bridgerton”), Florence Hunt (“Hyacinth Bridgerton”), Ruth Gemmell (“Lady Violet Bridgerton”), Bessie Carter (“Prudence Featherington”), Harriet Cains (“Philipa Featherington”), Polly Walker (“Lady Portia Featherington”), Ben Miller (“Lord Featherington”), Kathryn Drysdale (“Madame Genevieve Delacroix”), Sabrina Bartlett (“Siena Rosso”), Martins Imhangbe (“Will Mondrich”), and Lorraine Ashbourne (“Mrs. Varley”).
Van Dusen executive produces with Shondaland’s Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers.
Thank you for making Bridgerton our biggest series ever pic.twitter.com/Euac58hs61
— Netflix (@netflix) January 27, 2021