Sex or no sex, Netflix’s “Bridgerton” Season 2 is off to a smoking-hot start. Netflix said it premiered in the number-one slot in 92 countries with more than 193 million hours viewed globally in its first three days, making the steamy Shondaland drama the streaming service’s most-watched English-language TV title for a show’s season-premiere week.
That premiere-week categorization is important since many Netflix shows see their strongest performance in Weeks 2 and 3 — and sometimes beyond. There’s good reasons for that. Most Netflix series premiere on a Friday. (There are exceptions; “Emily in Paris” Season 2 premiered on a Wednesday.) Since Netflix counts Monday through Sunday as its week for measurement purposes, that means typically a show’s first “week” includes just three days while subsequent weeks count seven days.
There’s also the word-of-mouth factor. Many viral shows need a little time to take off; their biggest weeks wait for the water-cooler chatter of social media. For another recent Shondaland show, limited series “Inventing Anna,” the premiere weekend was just good enough to make our list at Number 10. However, its second week (and first full week) outperformed the record-breaking (but limited, comparatively) “Bridgerton” premiere weekend with 195.97 million hours viewed. For the purposes of this story, that is an apples-to-oranges comparison.
The English-language qualifier is also necessary for Netflix’s “Bridgerton” Season 2 claim. The first half of the fifth and final season of Spanish-language series “Money Heist” (“La Casa de Papel”) was actually more watched when it premiered over the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Labor Day Weekend 2021, when Netflix calculated 201.91 million hours viewed.
All the aforementioned factors explain one glaring omission from our Top 10: In its third week, “Squid Game” Season 1 amassed an insane 571.76 million hours viewed, the largest number ever seen on any of these lists. Subsequent “Squid Game” weeks are the only other ones that come even semi-close.
Without further qualifiers, below are the Top 10 English-language TV premieres on Netflix. For this story, we went through each week of the streamer’s Top 10 website, which has data dating back to the week of June 28, 2021-July 4, 2021, when it began sharing its Top 10 global TV shows and movies. We then cross-referenced premiere dates. The only wonky one was the sophomore “Emily in Paris” season, which got a two-day head start relative to the other nine shows.
As you’ll see, each of the Top 7 came in north of 100 million hours viewed, with “Outer Banks” Season 2 just barely making that milestone. We can’t say for sure if “Emily” deserves to make this list or not, but it is unlikely she would have crossed into triple digits without that advantage.
It only seems right to call out Part 1 of the fourth and final season of “Ozark” as an honorable mention: It received just 300,000 fewer hours viewed than the debut of “Inventing Anna.” The Jason Bateman-Laura Linney drama drew 77.01 million hours of viewership during the week of January 17, 2022 – January 23, 2022.
A few movies, like “Red Notice” (148.72 million hours viewed in Week 1) and recent Oscar nominee for Best Picture “Don’t Look Up” (111.03 million), would have shaken up the rankings if they included films. No non-English films would have taken slots away from TV.
The smash-hit success of “Bridgerton’s” sophomore season is no surprise: Season 1 was a phenomenon. With 625.49 million hours viewed in its first 28 days, the first season of Shonda Rhimes‘ (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal”) adaptation of the Julia Quinn novels remains the biggest-ever English-language Netflix series. For those records, Netflix goes way back.
See Netflix’s Top 10 English-language TV seasons (from just six shows) of all time, counting their first 28 days, below. Here again, “Squid Game” would dwarf the competition with a bonkers 1.650 billion hours viewed – if it were not in Korean.