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Squid Game Wasn't The Most-Streamed Show Of 2021

by : Hannah Smith on :
Squid Game Wasn't The Most-Streamed Show Of 2021
Squid Game Wasn't The Most-Streamed Show Of 2021 (Alamy)

It might have been all anyone was talking about in September, but it turns out Squid Game wasn't actually the biggest Netflix hit of the year.

Or at least, not in the United States. According to recently released figures, the Korean sensation was pipped to the post as Netflix's mos- watched original series by American viewers, despite having comfortably the biggest global audience in streaming history.

Nielson data showing the number of minutes Americans spent streaming Netflix shows last year reveals that Squid Game racked up an impressive 16.4 billion minutes between September 2021 and the end of the year.

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Cast of Squid Game (Alamy)
Cast of Squid Game (Alamy)

However, as Deadline reports, taking the top spot with more than 18.3 billion minutes of streaming was the unexpected hit Lucifer, which also released its sixth and final season in September.

Though its most recent seasons have been Netflix originals, Lucifer actually debuted on FOX, before being picked up by the streaming giant after it was cancelled by the broadcast network in 2018, prompting widespread fan outrage.

The show stars Tom Ellis – probably best known outside the US for his role in the BBC sitcom Miranda – as a suave version of the devil who decides to swap hell for Los Angeles. It's picked up quite a cult following throughout its five-year run, with interest in the series' conclusion enough to take it all the way to the top of Nielson's Netflix rankings for 2021.

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Tom Ellis as Lucifer (Alamy)
Tom Ellis as Lucifer (Alamy)
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But while the numbers don't lie, they don't quite tell the whole story here. While Lucifer may have outpaced Squid Game in terms of the minutes US audiences spent watching the show, there's a crucial bit of context behind Squid Game's second place finish.

There are six seasons and a whole 93 episodes of Lucifer available on the streaming platform, whereas the Korean show's views were racked up on just one season consisting of nine episodes. That means that if you look at the minutes viewed per episode, Squid Game absolutely demolishes Lucifer, with the figures equating to approximately 1.8 billion minutes per episode, compared with 196 million per episode for Lucifer.

Numbers aside, the fact that US audiences spent more time watching a foreign language show than almost any other series – including certified global smashes like The Great British Bake Off and You – is a testament to its reach, even if 85% of Americans chose to watch it with an English overdub.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is a London-based journalist covering news and features for UNILAD. She's especially interested in social and political activism and culture.

Topics: Film & TV, Netflix, Squid Game, Film and TV