Piecing together the most-watched Netflix series every year is always a bit dicey with how the streamer releases its data. For instance, they’d previously been using a model with metrics that depended on households that watched a particular movie or TV show. But watched is a loose term that seemed to mean anyone who clicked play on a title regardless of if they made it 10 seconds into the material or backed out because they had selected the wrong program.
Netflix’s new popularity model, which is predicated on a subscriber watching at least two minutes of a title, changed the playing field for the shows and movies that make their debut on the streaming service. There were dramatic shifts in the popularity rankings when this model was implemented. Now when we’re discussing the overall most watched shows and movies on the streamer, we’re talking about total hours watched within the first 28 days of their release on Netflix.
So how does the ranking shake out for 2021 in terms of new original series? Here’s what we know.
The 10 most-watched Netflix series of 2021
- Squid Game season 1 (1.6 billion hours)
- Bridgerton season 1 (625.4 million hours)
- The Witcher season 2 (Currently at 405 million hours)
- You season 3 (467.8 million hours)
- Maid (469 million hours)
- Sex Education season 3 (418.7 million hours)
- Money Heist part 5 (395.1 million hours)
- Ginny & Georgia season 1 (381 million hours)
- Lupin part 1 (316.8 million hours)
- Outer Banks season 2 (288.8 million hours)
Our list of most atched Netflix series of 2021 is according to the data provided by Netflix's Top 10 site, which gives a global view of hours watched on their streaming platform. The streamer separates their numbers by English and non-English programming and only backdates as far as June 28, 2021. As a result, this list can only reflect the data that was available at the time it was published.
Squid Game‘s place at the top comes as no surprise as the Korean drama took the world by storm after it premiered—and even inspired people to learn Korean. With a whopping 1.6 billion views within a month of its debut, it’s highly unlikely any show is coming close to knocking it off the throne of the most-watched Netflix show anytime soon.
Bridgerton is included on this list despite it premiering on December 25, 2020. As a cusp release, it’s only fair that it’s included on the following year’s list if it does outstanding numbers. The same could also be true of Cobra Kai season 4, which made its debut December 31, 2021, and pulled in 120 million hours watched in its first week. Depending on how well it does in the next few weeks, it could end up being one of the most popular shows of 2022 (and of all time on Netflix).
While The Witcher season 2 isn’t currently sitting in the network’s Top 10 most popular series list, that’s solely due to the show being short of its 28-day viewing window. The second season of the series premiered on December 17, 2021. Expect the Top 10 list to make room for the new season within the month since it cracked 405 million hours watched within three weeks.
A surprising inclusion for some will likely be Ginny and Georgia. The show clocked in at 318 million hours watched and was a part of the statistics released during the fall just as Netflix announced their shift to the new model. The show has since been pushed out of the streamer’s Top 10 list of most popular series overall; however, it still ranks as one of the most popular shows of 2021 and is the third most popular teen series on Netflix currently running (Stranger Things and Sex Education are the top 2).