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Squid Game may become Netflix's most watched show yet, co-CEO says

CNET logo CNET 10/1/2021 Joan E. Solsman
Squid Game is a dystopian Korean series about a deadly competition pitting desperate people against each other in children's games. Netflix © Provided by CNET Squid Game is a dystopian Korean series about a deadly competition pitting desperate people against each other in children's games. Netflix

Netflix's dark Korean survival series Squid Game has "a very good chance" of becoming Netflix's most popular show yet, co-CEO Ted Sarandos said Monday. 

Squid Game was "No. 1 in the world, like everywhere in the world," Sarandos, who is also the head of content at Netflix, said Monday at the Code conference in Los Angeles. "Squid Game will definitely be our biggest non-English language show in the world, for sure."

He added that there's "a very good chance it's going to be our biggest show ever." 

Sarandos didn't specify the metric used to gauge Squid Game's popularity. Traditionally, Netflix ranks the popularity of its originals by counting how many people watch a title for at least two minutes in the first 28 days of release. 

If Sarandos is using this standard metric, Squid Game would be overtaking Bridgerton -- a racy Regency-era drama released late in 2020 -- as Netflix's most popular series. It would also overtake Lupin, a French heist series that is Netflix's most-watched non-English language series yet, and No. 2 most-watched series generally after Bridgerton. 

Squid Game is a popular Korean series on Netflix. © Netflix

Squid Game is a popular Korean series on Netflix.

Also Monday, Netflix released top-10 rankings of its original shows and movies, which are calculated after a title has been released for 28 days. Squid Game was released Sept. 17, giving it only about 11 days of viewership by the time Sarandos spoke. 

For years, Netflix was notoriously tight-lipped about viewership. The creator of House of Cards, which put Netflix's original content efforts on the map, once said the company wouldn't even share viewership metrics with him. But within the last two years, Netflix has grown much chattier about the popularity of its shows and movies, to help recruit talent and stoke buzz. Netflix also added a top-trending ranking to its service, so people can see what the most popular titles streaming on Netflix in their country are on any given day. 

But Netflix's audience stats have exasperated parts of the TV industry for being unverified, unsupported and disclosed without much accountability. 

"We're trying to be more transparent with the market, with the talent, with everybody," Sarandos said Monday. 

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