Netflix may have struck gold with one of its latest original series, The Witcher. The fantasy TV show is on track to become the platform's biggest first season ever, the company has announced. This is good news for fans of fantasy, and of Netflix original series in general.
The Witcher debuted on Dec. 20, just in time for many people's holiday break. On Tuesday, a full month later, the service revealed that about 76 million users watched the show in its first four weeks, according to a report by Variety.
This means that about 46 percent of Netflix subscribers all around the world watched The Witcher in its first month, going by the total number of subscribers the company reported at the end of 2019. This is good news for everyone involved — while Netflix tends to keep its metrics and its criteria for canceling or renewing shows secretive, past reports have indicated that viewership in the first month is critical.
However, according to Variety this is a momentous case, as The Witcher is one of the first big shows to be judged by a new system at Netflix. The company now counts anyone who "chose to watch and did watch at least two minutes" of a show as a "viewer," regardless of whether they watched the full season or even a full episode.
Netflix reasons that this is "long enough to indicate that the choice was intentional." In the past, the company had only counted viewers as people who watched at least 70 percent of a TV episode or movie.
This has caused some controversy in the past, as fans of Netflix originals often feel the company is underestimating their numbers and cancelling shows before they can really get going. Since the service also releases many shows in batches, it assumes fans will binge-watch their content, which is often not the case.
Hopefully, The Witcher can be the first of many shows to benefit from a new, more relaxed approach to viewership. The series is a fantasy epic meant to match the scale of premium cable shows like Game of Thrones, and for many fans it succeeded. It was also frequently compared to the Star Wars spin-off series The Mandalorian, which was released on Disney+ around the same time. The Mandalorian came out from week to week, while The Witcher was dropped all at once.
This all indicates possible tectonic shifts in the "streaming wars," which are changing all the time. As for the show itself, The Witcher has already been renewed for a second season, which is expected to begin filming in London early in 2020. It is slated for release in 2021 on Netflix.