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Nielsen Streaming Ratings: Netflix Phenom ‘Squid Game’ Got Off to a Surprisingly Slow Start

Netflix's 'Squid Game'
(Image credit: Netflix)

In less than a month, local-language Korean thriller Squid Game has enjoyed Netflix’s biggest debut ever for any movie or TV show, but it apparently took U.S. audiences some time to discover it.

Squid Game, which debuted all nine of its limited-series episodes on Sept. 17, failed to crack the top 10 ranking of most watched movies and shows on the four biggest U.S. subscription streaming services for the week of Sept. 13-19, according to Nielsen’s weekly SVOD tally of minutes viewed per show. Squid Game wasn’t even included on Nielsen’s sub-ranking of original series, either. 

According to Nielsen, the opening weekend of Squid Game garnered 206 million viewing minutes in the U.S., which ranked it well behind the No. 10 finisher, Netflix’s The Circle. Squid Game didn’t reach the “No. 1 in the U.S.” on Netflix’s own top 10 ratings widget until its fourth day on the platform. 

Also Read: 'Squid Game,' Netflix's Latest Inexplicable Hit (Review)

According to Netflix, 111 million account holders worldwide watched at least two minutes of Squid Game in its first 28 days on the platform. That was more than the 99 million accounts that watched Netflix’s Chris Hemsworth movie thriller Extraction last year in its first four weeks, or the 82 million who sampled Shonda Rhimes period romcom Bridgerton

(Image credit: Nielsen)

Just four days after the sixth season of Lucifer appeared on Netflix, the supernatural-themed original series was the most watched program among Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus, attracting 1.588 billion viewing minutes for the week ending Sept. 19.

The 10 new Lucifer episodes, which debuted on Sept. 10, saw an increase of 536 million viewing minutes week over week. That jump helped the series—about a fallen angel, who works with the LAPD to take down Earthly criminals—steal the top spot from Clickbait, which took the No. 1 for the previous two weeks.

Despite recent ratings success for Season 5 and Season 6 of the Warner Bros.-produced, 93-episode series, Lucifer has not been renewed by Netflix for a seventh season.

Meanwhile, Netflix limited series Clickbait garnered 732 million viewing minutes, its lowest viewership performance since debuting on August 25. Despite the 376 million viewing minutes drop week over week, Clickbait took the No. 2 spot on the Nielsen chart.

(Image credit: Nielsen)

For the second consecutive week, Netflix off-net supernatural drama Manifest took the No. 3 spot with 712 million viewing minutes.

The third season of Manifest was released on Netflix on Aug. 21. Canceled by NBC in June, Manifest has been a ratings giant for Netflix. Netflix has agreed to produce a 20-episode fourth and final season of the series about the mysterious disappearance and reappearance of Flight 828.

With nearly 74 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada, Netflix tends to dominate Nielsen’s minutes viewed rankings, since a much larger pool of viewers have access to the program relative to Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus. 

And once again, Netflix occupied all 10 spots on Nielsen’s main rankings.

Netflix’s Sex Education, which debuted its third season on the streaming service Sept. 17—the same day as Squid Game—managed to crack Nielsen’ s top 10 for the week ending Sept. 19. The Season 3 premiere generated 595 million viewing minutes, putting the teen comedy in sixth place. The series revolves around English middle school student Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) who is the son of prominent sex therapist Dr. Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson). The show was renewed for a fourth season on Sept. 25. 

(Image credit: Nielsen)

Despite losing 42 million viewing minutes week over week, Canadian family drama series Heartland jumped up one spot to No. 9. Adapted from Lauren Brooke’s eponymous novels, the series’ 215 episodes available on Netflix drew 456 million viewing minutes.  The 13th season of the multi-generational saga set in Alberta, produced by the CBC, debuted on Netflix back in February.

Meanwhile, the season 3 premiere of Netflix’s The Circle helped the reality show just make it into the top ten with 444 million viewing minutes. Adapted from a British reality game show, The Circle Season 3 premiered on Netflix Sept. 8, nearly five months after the debut of Season 2. On August 9, the series from Studio Lambert and Motion Content Group was greenlit for a fourth and fifth season.

Among shows not Netflix, Hulu’s ballyhooed original comedy series Only Murders in the Building continued to lose audience, dropping nearly 7% of its viewership from episode 4-5. With 311 million viewing minutes, the show starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez did manage to crack the No. 5 spot in Nielsen’s sub ranking of original SVOD series. 

Meanwhile, Amazon’s LuLaRich, a three-part documentary about clothing maker LuLaRoe, which was accused of bilking women in a multi-level marketing scheme, debuted Sept. 10 and finished in ninth place on the originals list with  242 million viewing minutes.

Finally, Netflix’s Kate, which stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a vengeance-seeking female assassin alongside Woody Harrelson in a Japanese production, garnered 413 million viewing minutes after debuting Sept. 10, making it the top ranked SVOD movie for the week ending Sept. 19. Safe House, a CIA-themed thriller starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds that debuted on Amazon Prime on Sept. 16, finished in second place with 355 million viewing minutes. 

Nielsen Weekly Ratings - Movies Sept. 13-19

(Image credit: Nielsen)

Previous Weekly Rankings:

Sept. 13-19: Netflix’s ‘Clickbait’ Holds Off Surging ‘Lucifer’

August 30 - Sept. 5: Netflix’s 'Clickbait' Steals Audience Traffic From 'Manifest'

August 23-29: Netflix’s 'Manifest' Soars Back to No. 1 with the Debut of Season 3

August 16-22: Netflix’s ’Outer Banks’ Loses 37% of Its Audience, Still Finishes No. 1

August 9-15: Netflix’s Scrappy ‘Outer Banks’ Maintains the No. 1 Spot

August 2-8: Netflix's ‘Outer Banks’ Surpasses 2.1 Billion Viewing Minutes

July 26 - August 1: Netflix's 'All American' Edges 'Outer Banks' for No. 1

July 19-25: Netflix’s ‘Virgin River’ Maintains the No. 1 Spot

July 12-18: Netflix’s ‘Virgin River’ Ends Five-Week ‘Manifest’ Winning Streak

July 5-11: #SaveManifest Movement Picks Up Steam as Netflix Series Becomes the Most Watched SVOD Show for 5th Straight Week

June 28-July 4: Amazon’s $200 Million Bet on Paramount’s ‘The Tomorrow War’ Pays Off

June 21-27: ‘Manifest’ Continues Series Saving Flight Plan on Netflix

June 14-20: Netflix’s ‘Manifest’ Scores the Year’s Biggest SVOD Audience So Far

June 7-13: Netflix’s ‘Sweet Tooth’ Shows Bite for the Week of June 7-13

May 31-June 6: Netflix’s ‘Lucifer’ Bedevils SVOD’s Biggest Audience Since Season 3 of 'Cobra Kai’ Debuted in January

May 24-30: Netflix’s ‘Lucifer’ Has SVOD’s Biggest Week* Since ‘Coming 2 America’ Debuted in Early-March

May  17-23: Zack Snyder’s ‘Army of the Dead’ on Netflix Leads a Rather Lifeless Week for the U.S. Streaming Biz

May 10-16: ‘Jupiter’s Legacy’ Not Good Enough For Netflix to Renew, But Strong Enough to Lead the Week of May 10-16

May 3-9: Netflix’s $100 Million Bet on Sony’s ‘The Mitchells vs. The Machines’ Pays Off

April 26 - May 2: Netflix’s ‘Shadow and Bone’ Edges Hulu’s ‘Handmade’s Tale' in Rebound Week for the Streaming Biz

April 19-25: Netflix’s ‘NCIS’ Off-net Run Wins Another ‘Easttown and Down' Week for the U.S. SVOD Biz

April 12-18: Disney Plus’ ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Builds to 855 Million Streaming Minutes and a No. 1 Finish

April 5-11: Give Netflix's 'Thunder Force' Five for Winning the Week of April 5-11

March 29 - April 4: Netflix’s ‘The Irregulars’ Tops the Easter Week Charts

March 22-28: - 'Falcon and Winter Soldier' Tops SVOD Originals

March 15-21: - 'Grey's Anatomy' Re-Runs Top SVOD Ranker

March 8-14: - ‘The Crown’ Got Royal Gains from Meghan’s Big Oprah Interview

March 1-7: - Amazon Tops the Charts for the First Time with ‘Coming 2 America’

Feb 22-28: - Netflix’s 'Ginny & Georgia' Leads the SVOD Biz