December 31 (Insider) – Netflix has found its next global hit, and it’s giving even “Star Wars” a run for its money.
“The Witcher,” based on the fantasy novel series by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, is the most in-demand TV series in the world across all platforms, according to the data company Parrot Analytics. The company’s ranking is based on “demand expressions,” its globally standardized TV measurement unit to reflect the desire, engagement, and viewership of a series, weighted by importance.
The show, which arrived on Netflix on December 20, passed Disney Plus’ “Star Wars” series, “The Mandalorian,” as the top show in the world the week of December 22 to 28. “The Witcher” was also the top show in the US, with nearly 127 million demand expressions compared with “The Mandalorian’s” 115 million demand expressions in the US that week.
It’s an impressive start for “The Witcher” considering the popularity of “The Mandalorian,” which last month dethroned Netflix’s “Stranger Things” as the most in-demand streaming series in the US, breaking its 21-week streak at the top of Parrot Analytics’ charts.
“‘The Witcher’s’ immediate worldwide success highlights the impact that a binge-released series can have on driving audience demand,” a Parrot Analytics representative said. “Its success is also crucial for Netflix heading into the 2020s as the streamer fights off new SVOD players and declining global digital original demand share.”
Parrot Analytics’ data backs up Netflix’s assertion that “The Witcher” is one of its most popular shows of the year. The streaming giant revealed its top 10 TV shows of 2019 on Monday, with “The Witcher” second only to “Stranger Things” in the US. “The Witcher” was Netflix’s most popular series in the UK and Australia.
Netflix’s lists are based on how many households streamed a title for at least two minutes in its first 28 days of release. For “The Witcher,” which hasn’t been available for that long, Netflix used projections based on its viewership so far, though the company did not disclose actual numbers.
“The Witcher’s” popularity comes despite poor reviews from critics. The show, starring Henry Cavill as a monster-hunter for hire, has a 59% critic score on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 63 reviews, but a 93% audience score based on more than 14,000 user ratings.
Time magazine’s Judy Berman wrote that the series “heightens our confusion by fumbling details that would have helped it set a cohesive tone.”
Not all the reviews have been bad. Indiewire’s Ben Travers wrote that “The Witcher” is “a pretty entertaining spectacle.”