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    Thursday, January 28, 2021

    Bridgerton Is Netflix’s Biggest Series Ever, as 82 Million Viewers Tune In

    Bridgerton — the Regency-era London romantic drama produced by Shondaland — is now Netflix's biggest original series of all time, the streaming service has announced.

    Ever since Netflix NFLX debuted House of Cards on its digital entertainment streaming service, critics and entertainment industry experts alike have been as enthralled with the upstart company and its progress, as they’ve been with the various original series and movies it has programmed since.

    Unlike subscription cable networks like HBO and Showtime, Netflix made clear, early on, that it intended to be a service that could speak to every member of the household.

    Elite subscription cable has a history of offering edgy, R-rated fare, with little to no programming commissioned for family or younger adult consumption.

    The strategy was obvious: why would people pay for subscription cable, if they could get similar fare on broadcast TV?

    By ordering shows like Fuller House and Virgin River, Netflix signaled to its growing subscriber base that it rejected the premium cable strategy.

    Historians may argue this point, but beyond offering shows in a “binge-able” package, Netflix’s next most provocative decision was to be all things to all viewers, versus cleaving to the “elite-oriented” cable rule.

    Netflix would unabashedly and without apology program to kids, older adults, rural viewers and other audience segments intentionally ignored by premium cable.

    Along the way, the streamer never forgot to include award-winning, HBO-worthy fare, ranging from Orange Is The New Black to The Queen’s Gambit.

    Netflix truly seemed to speak to anyone – - mainstream or artsy – - interested in original content.

    Planning ahead, the streamer made massive, exclusive deals with creators that had built gigantic, loyal audiences based on their specific brand of storytelling.

    The biggest deals announced were with Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris, all reported to be in the “9 figure club” – - in other words, the value of each deal was reported to easily exceed $100 million.

    Since then, Netflix has made similarly high-profile deals with mega-personalities: Barack and Michelle Obama and Prince Harry of Sussex and his wife, Meghan Markle.

    While Murphy has already had a number of projects premiere on Netflix, Rhimes has only recently debuted her first effort: Bridgerton.

    Taking place in England’s Regency Era (based on novels by Julia Quinn), many who tune in will be reminded of juicy, period-set serials such as Downton Abbey, or docu-dramas like The Crown, when comparing Rhimes’ latest smash hit to past favorites.

    Rhimes is no stranger to major series success.

    With her first series, Grey’s Anatomy, (still running on ABC in its 17th season) and subsequent dramas such as the Grey’s spin-off, Private Practice, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, Rhimes delivered hit after hit for ABC (once responsible for programming the network’s entire Thursday night schedule), with serialized soaps featuring casts that were notable for their ethnic diversity.

    Among Bridgerton’s many assets – - period-set wardrobes, classic production design, Jane Austen-like story-telling, by way of Desperate Housewives-influenced narrative – - the series’ most outstanding, daring and exciting decision is the choice to make the cast so tremendously diverse.

    Whether on broadcast, PBS or premium cable, period costume dramas have always featured exclusively Caucasian casts.

    Rhimes’ decision to boldly go where no period drama has gone before, creating the most diverse period drama ever produced, is key to what makes it so distinctive, and is likely the primary reason for its massive success both in the U.S. and in over 83 territories around the world, where Bridgerton occupies the top spot in the streaming universe, by a mile.

    At 82 million viewers, Bridgerton outpaces the biggest shows on linear television, exponentially  in the first 28 days, with the show hitting number one on Netflix's daily “Top 10” lists in 83 markets, including India, the US, and the UK, and featuring on the “Top 10” list in every market Netflix is available except Japan.

    As the world waits for broadcast TV’s biggest night – - Super Bowl LV – - we’ll all be reminded that even though that spectacle will likely post the largest audience in NFL championship history, it will still be a far cry from anything close to Bridgerton’s massive audience performance.

    Netflix’s co-CEO’s Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos must be feeling pretty great about that nine figure deal with Shonda Rhimes, right about now.

    The all-time high for any Netflix original, per its own reports, is for the Chris Hemsworth-led action movie Extraction. The company said 99 million member accounts viewed the film within 28 days of its release.

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