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Netflix CEO: Witcher is a 'massive new franchise' that'll get 'season after season'

Condolences to The OA: The Witcher seems like it'll be on Netflix for the long haul.

The Witcher is Netflix's most popular freshman series yet, the company says.

Netflix's fantasy series The Witcher is "a massive new franchise that will develop season after season," Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said Tuesday. It came the same day the streaming giant said The Witcher's popularity ranked it as Netflix's biggest new series yet

Netflix, using a new viewership metric that counts a title as "watched" if after it has played for two minutes (including autoplay), said that The Witcher was viewed by 76 million accounts, a performance that Hastings said "ended the year on a high note." The company has more than 167 million memberships worldwide. The news about The Witcher was wrapped up in Netflix's fourth-quarter earnings report, which revealed better-than-expected subscriber growth driven by overseas demand.

Netflix's end-of-year period, coinciding with major holidays across many of its markets, is usually when Netflix mints some of its biggest hits of the year. The titles it chooses to release and promote late in December usually represent some of its most important content bets.

As Netflix's original programming machine has revved up to one of biggest content engines on the planet, Netflix has appeared to become more willing to cancel some programs after a couple seasons. Whereas early hits like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black lasted six or seven seasons, more recent shows -- even those with dedicated fan followings -- have been cancelled much earlier. The OA, Anne with an E, One Day at a Time and others have all sparked fan campaigns for Netflix to reconsider cancellations or to encourage another network to save them. (One report casts doubt on the perception Netflix is hyperactive about cancelling shows.)