Netflix says 64M households ‘chose to watch’ the documentary hit ‘Tiger King’

How big a hit is Netflix’s “Tiger King”? In its latest earnings release, the streaming company says 64 million households have “chosen to watch” the docu-series its first four weeks of release.

You’ll note that it isn’t claiming that 64 million people actually watched the whole show (which tells the story of Joe Exotic, a big cat owner who’s accused of hiring a contract killer to murder his nemesis, an animal rights activist). That’s because the company recently switched to a new system for selectively reporting audience numbers.

Netflix now focuses on how many people chose to watch, which means how many people selected a given show or movie and watched at least two minutes (so they didn’t just click on it by accident). By the company’s own admission, this method increases viewer counts by an average of 35%, so it’s hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison with numbers that the streaming service has released in past years.

But among recent releases, “Tiger King” — which has already spawned a follow-up special — comes out way ahead of “Ozark” season 3 (29 million) and the reality show “Love Is Blind” (30 million), and is roughly as popular as “​La Casa de Papel​”/”​Money Heist​” (65 million).

The series was not, however, able to match the viewership of what Netflix says was its most popular show ever, “The Witcher” (76 million) — not to mention the Ryan Reynolds action movie “6 Underground” (83 million) and the Mark Wahlberg action movie “Spenser Confidential” (85 million).

And of course the viewership numbers should be seen in the context of a big spike in paid Netflix subscribers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.