Netflix Show Beats HBO's 'House of the Dragon' for Most-Watched Premiere of 2022

Netflix's Wednesday just overcame House of the Dragon to become the most-watched TV premiere of 2022, and it eschewed one of the most frustrating aspects of the streaming industry in the process. Streaming series typically get the majority of their viewers in the first two to four weeks after their premiere, whether they're released week-to-week or all at once. However, Wednesday extended its window and was therefore able to beat House of the Dragon.

Wednesday's belated ratings victory was reported by Samba TV and Deadline on Monday. They noted that, for many of last year's most popular shows, the first 15 days after their release drew in about 75 percent of the total viewers they would see in the 51 days after their release. These windows are important to determine profitability and renewals, for better or worse, and it has become consistent. Even House of the Dragon, which aired on HBO and HBO Max as a weekly "event TV" series reportedly saw most of its viewers in its first two weeks.

Wednesday is now the exception, as the series reportedly continued to draw in new viewers for weeks. Counting the show's first 40 days on Netflix, only 66 percent of its total viewers came to it in the first 15 days. Analysts attribute much of this success to social media, where younger viewers were drawn into the series as a whole.

It's hard to compare Wednesday and House of the Dragon when it comes to franchise recognition. On the one hand, Wednesday is a spinoff of The Addams Family, though it was criticized by some for veering too far away from the conceit of its source material. On the other, the show relied on the character Wednesday herself as a stand-alone draw and a meme, even for those unfamiliar with older Addams Family productions.

Meanwhile, House of the Dragon benefited from the global success of Game of Thrones, though it also had to make up for its predecessor's infamous ending. House of the Dragon broke numerous viewership records for HBO and HBO Max and for the TV industry in general, though many of those benchmarks were quickly surpassed.

Samba's report also focused on what these performances might mean for the streaming platforms and their strategies moving forward. By now, many viewers are familiar with the 15-day window, 40-day window and 51-day window that determine series renewals and cancellations, often leading to heartbreak. However, companies are now reportedly faced with a pattern of "subscription cycling," where customers cancel a streaming service for months at a time after their favorite show finishes airing.

Hopefully, the go-to solution for that will be constant investments in great new content. For now, Wednesday is streaming on Netflix with a second season on order, while House of the Dragon is streaming on HBO Max with a second season filming right now. There's no word on when either of these will air.