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There are 456 contestants in Squid Game. But across the world, there are a whole lot more than that — and we mean a whole lot more — plugged in to Netflix and hanging on the edge of their seats to see which ones cross the finish line.
Thanks to newly-reported Netflix streaming numbers, it’s fair to assume that somewhere in the neighborhood of five percent of the entire planet’s population has now seen Squid Game protagonist Seong Gi-hu (Lee Jung-jae) make at least one tiptoed trip across the dystopian series’ deadly playground. Deadline reports that no fewer than 142 million households worldwide have streamed some portion of the South Korean series during its first four weeks on the platform.
If we assume an average Netflix “household” has at least two people (and possibly more) with access to the service, even a conservative calculator tally suggests that close to 300 million people have witnessed the Netflix nightmare that unfolds when thugs with guns referee innocent kids’ games like “Red Light, Green Light.” Multiply that 142 million "household" figure by three people (or even factor in all the undisclosed account sharing that, ahem, probably occurs every now and then), and that number climbs above 425 million people…or, in other words, more than 5 percent of the world’s entire population, estimated at between 7 and 8 billion.
No matter how you finesse the numbers, that’s a lot of eyes on Squid Game in a short amount of time. Netflix doesn’t report specifics about all of its shows’ performance with viewers, but revealed earlier this month that Squid Game had seized the most-viewed top spot from past huge hits like Bridgerton, Stranger Things, and The Witcher to claim the title of most successful original series debut in the platform’s 14-year streaming history.
“A mind-boggling 142m [million] member households globally have chosen to watch the title in its first four weeks,” the platform informed investors in comments reported by Deadline. “The breadth of Squid Game’s popularity is truly amazing,” the company added, describing the show’s success as having “pierced the cultural zeitgeist” in nearly every corner of the world.
There’s no word yet on whether Netflix will follow up on all the Squid Game debut buzz by green lighting the show for a second season. But if it does, the way we measure its near-ineveitable success is likely to change. TV Line reports that the streamer has revealed plans to change the way it tallies viewership, switching from the “household” method mentioned above to a more precise system that counts up the number of actual hours that member accounts have spent plugged in to a particular movie or show.
Not that it’ll matter much in Squid Game’s case. Measure it in households, hours, or even in screams, and the result’s likely gonna stay the same: Since its Sept. 17 premiere, people everywhere can’t seem to get enough of Netflix’s new number-one series. If you’re up for even more fight-or-flight frights in the same suspenseful horror vein as Squid Game, check out our list of what to watch next — once, that is, you’ve fully finished following the anxiety-ridden misadventures of Player 456.