Netflix's The Old Guard, Enola Holmes were its biggest 'summer' hits

Kissing Booth 2 and Project Power also drew in big audiences, according to Netflix's self-reported viewership metrics.

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Joan E. Solsman
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Millie Bobbie Brown starred in Enola Holmes, one of Netflix's most popular titles in the last three months. 


Netflix's action flick The Old Guard was its biggest hit of the summer, drawing viewers in 78 million households during its first four weeks of release, followed closely by Enola Holmes, a feminist spin on a Sherlock Holmes-style detective caper, with a projected 76 million. 

Dropping another cache of popularity figures for its originals Tuesday, Netflix also said teen rom-com Kissing Booth 2 and dark superhero movie Project Power were big in the third quarter. Cobra Kai, a reboot of The Karate Kid that had already been available for years on YouTube's now-defunct Red service, nevertheless found an audience of 50 million accounts on Netflix in its first month.  

Netflix's full popularity rankings are below. 

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 in the last year, Netflix has relaxed its near-absolute silence on the popularity of its shows and movies to help recruit talent and stoke buzz. 

In addition to sharing viewership stats for top titles every three months as part of its earnings report, Netflix 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. 

Netflix's popularity figures need disclaimers. For one, they aren't independently verified, nor are they backed up by detailed data from the company. Netflix is in the unique position that it can cherry-pick highlights, and we don't have much independent data to verify them. Traditional media companies, on the other hand, have their box office performance independently monitored, and they're at the mercy of Nielsen ratings as the barometer for TV shows.

Speaking of Nielsen: Don't compare Netflix's numbers to metrics like Nielsen ratings or box office figures. It's tempting to compare how many people watched a Netflix show versus one on regular TV, or to estimate how much money a big movie on Netflix would've made at the box office. But these metrics aren't even close to comparable because the methods behind them differ wildly.

And at the beginning of this year, Netflix switched to a new viewership metric. Netflix now counts a title as "watched" if you choose to watch it and let it play for just two minutes. With some shows or movies, you can turn them off before you even hit the main title sequence -- and it still counts as a view. 

The following are Netflix's viewership stats released Tuesday. All the following figures are viewership in a title's first four weeks of release, except in cases when Netflix projected total viewership before the title actually reached the four-week mark (which are noted).

  • The Old Guard, an action-thriller movie -- 78 million accounts.
  • Enola Holmes, a period detective caper film -- 76 million accounts projected.
  • Project Power, a dark superhero movie -- 75 million accounts.
  • Kissing Booth 2, a teen rom-com flick -- 66 million accounts.
  • American Murder: The Family Next Door, a true-crime documentary film -- 52 million accounts projected.
  • Seasons 1 and 2 of Cobra Kai, a reboot series of The Karate Kid -- 50 million accounts.
  • Season 1 of Ratched, a psychological thriller series -- 48 million accounts.
  • Season 2 of Umbrella Academy, a superhero series -- 43 million accounts.
  • Season 5 of Lucifer, a fantasy police-procedural series -- 38 million accounts.
  • The Social Dilemma, a documentary about social-media companies -- 38 million accounts.

Past popularity rankings

So how do those titles stack up against the ones that came before? Netflix's previous viewership stats for past titles are listed below. Again, all the following figures are for the titles' first four weeks of release using the two-minute metric, except for Netflix's projections where noted:

  • Extraction, an action movie starring Chris Hemsworth -- 99 million accounts.
  • Bird Box, a postapocalyptic movie starring Sandra Bullock -- more than 89 million accounts.
  • Spenser Confidential, an action-comedy movie starring Mark Wahlberg -- 85 million accounts.
  • 6 Underground, a Michael Bay explosion-fest starring Ryan Reynolds -- 83 million accounts.
  • Season 1 of The Witcher, a fantasy series based on an existing franchise of books and  video games  -- 76 million accounts. 
  • Murder Mystery, a comedy movie starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston -- 73 million accounts.
  • Season 4 of La Casa de Papel, or Money Heist, a Spanish language heist thriller series -- projection for 65 million.
  • The Irishman, a period epic about the Mafia, directed by Martin Scorsese -- 64 million accounts.
  • Triple Frontier, an action/heist movie starring Ben Affleck -- 63 million accounts.
  • Tiger King, a viral docuseries -- 64 million households. 
  • The Wrong Missy, a romantic-comedy movie starring David Spade and Lauren Lapkus -- 59 million accounts.
  • The Platform, a Spanish sci-fi horror movie -- 56 million accounts.
  • Season 2 of You, a psychological thriller series -- projection for 54 million accounts, based on first weeks' viewing since its Dec. 26 release.
  • The Perfect Date, a teen romantic-comedy movie -- 48 million accounts.
  • Klaus, an animated holiday film nominated for an Oscar -- 40 million accounts.
  • Season 1 of Love Is Blind, a dating competition series -- 30 million. 
  • Season 3 of The Crown, a historical drama series -- 21 million accounts (and Netflix said 73 million accounts have watched The Crown since the series launched).

Prior to this year, Netflix counted views differently. Netflix wouldn't start counting something as "watched" until you got through 70% of the first episode of a series or of a film's total runtime. Netflix says the new two-minute threshold is more fair to all titles, regardless of their length. But it also means the new stats have inflated viewership numbers by about one-third compared with the old ones. 

These are previous viewerships stats under the old rules. They're figures Netflix released (or projected, where noted) for the first four weeks of release. 

  • Stranger Things season 3, a retro sci-fi series -- 64 million households. 
  • Umbrella Academy, a superhero series -- 45 million households.
  • Tall Girl, a teen rom-com movie -- 41 million households.
  • Sex Education, a British teen dramedy show -- more than 40 million households.
  • The Highwaymen, a period crime movie starring Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson -- more than 40 million households.
  • Secret Obsession, a movie mystery about a young wife with amnesia -- 40 million views.
  • Our Planet, a BBC-style nature docu-series -- 33 million households.
  • Always Be My Maybe, a comedy film with Ali Wong and Randall Park -- 32 million households.
  • Unbelievable, a true-crime miniseries about the victims of a serial rapist and the detectives hunting him down -- 32 million accounts.
  • Dead to Me, a dramedy series with Christina Applegate -- 30 million households.
  • Otherhood, a movie about a band of moms visiting their adult sons by surprise -- 29 million households. 
  • When They See Us, a buzzy limited series from creator Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five case -- 25 million households. 
  • Bodyguard, a BBC-World Productions series that previously aired in the UK -- 23 million member households.
  • FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, a documentary film about the Fyre Fest debacle -- more than 20 million homes.
  • Élite, a Spanish-language high-school soap series -- more than 20 million member households. 
  • Baby, an Italian teen drama series -- more than 10 million homes.
  • The Protector, Netflix's first Turkish original series -- more than 10 million households.