Measured in the same way as television viewing in the United Kingdom, an episode of Squid Game on Netflix would have ranked in the top 10 programmes of October 2021, with an audience of 5.77 million. The most viewed Disney+ title would have ranked 79 and Amazon did not have a title in the top 100.
The numbers come from BARB, the broadcast audience research board in the United Kingdom, which now includes other online video services in its total television viewing figures. This includes viewing across television sets, tablets, phones, and computers in the home, and for tagged services extends to viewing when downloaded or over other networks.
The most popular programme on television in the United Kingdom in October was Strictly Come Dancing in the BBC with an audience of 10.44 million. The second most watched programme was The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4 with 8.89 million, while the remake of The Larkins on ITV was viewed by 6.58 million.
Squid Game from Netflix had an accumulated audience of 5.77 million over the month for its seventh episode in the English language, as measured by BARB, just behind the BBC reboot of Blankety Blank with 5.86 million.
Netflix had three other programmes in the top 100 as measured by BARB, with the movie The Guilty ranked 46 with 3.12 million, an episode of You ranked 58 with 2.69 million, and the opening episode of Maid ranked 67 with 2.52 million.
Disney+, incidentally, had only one title that ranked in the top 80, the movie Black Widow ranking 79 with 2.27 million.
The highest ranked title for Amazon Prime Video did not make it into the top 100 for the month of October.
Justin Sampson, the chief executive of BARB said that “It’s been clear for some time that streaming services have started to attract viewers who have traditionally relied solely on linear channels for their viewing entertainment.”
“It’s great news for the television and advertising industry that we’re upgrading our always-on measurement service to include SVOD and video-sharing platforms. For the first time there is audience measurement for these services that bears all the hallmarks of a joint-industry currency: independence, objectivity and transparency.”
For its part, Netflix reports that Squid Game ranked first among its “TV” programmes in the United Kingdom for the first two weeks of October, and second after the third season of You for the second half of the month.
Globally, Squid Game was watched for a total of 909 million hours over four weeks in October.
Notably, Netflix aggregates weekly viewing hours over a title like Squid Game, whereas the BARB numbers report average audience viewing minutes for a single episode, which is how television programmes are usually measured.
On the face of it, the BARB figures put Netflix viewing in perspective, based on the common currency of television viewing. In that world, shows like Strictly and Bake Off continue to attract mass audiences.
However, an audience of 5.77 million for a single episode of Squid Game should concentrate the minds of television executives, particularly since Netflix is only available in about 55% of homes in the United Kingdom.