Have you been watching Squid Game? Released Sept. 17, the nine-episode Korean thriller is poised to become Netflix's biggest "non-English-language show in the world," said Netflix's co-CEO Ted Sarandos.
Yes, the numbers are that huge. Sarandos also said, "It's only been out for nine days, and it's a very good chance it's going to be our biggest show ever," last month.
According to Parrot Analytics's demand index, the series is now the most in-demand show in the world, with 79 times as much audience interest as the average title. And what's crazy is, the popularity is sky-high outside the U.S., where it is slowly catching on just now.
Julia Alexander, a senior strategy analyst at Parrot Analytics, has said, "I'm assuming that the executives knew because of the talent they used, because of the region they released it in, that this was going to be a hit in South Korea. I would put good money that the executives had no idea this was going to be a global hit."
On TikTok, the hashtag "#SquidGame" has been viewed more than 22.8 billion times.
"People hear about it, people talk about it, people love it, and there's a very social aspect to that, which does help grow the show outside of what we do," Netflix's global TV head, Bela Bajaria, told Vulture.
The show is about a group of people who choose to play childhood games to make money. The only catch is if you lose, you die. That might be a drastic oversimplification of the plot, but I truly believe you have to watch this show to believe it. It's funny, emotional, brutal, and exciting.
Netflix is in over 200 million homes, so when a show catches on, people lean into the accessibility. Netflix has to be excited too, since this Korean drama is a hit outside of the United States, helping its service gather new members across the world, people not always interested in Western entertainment. Since 2019, streaming of non-English content by U.S. audiences is up by 71%, which is a great sign for the growing business.
So how does a show where all the dialogue is in Korean span the globe? Netflix offers subtitles in 37 languages, and it dubs its shows in 34 more languages. That's a huge boon for shows they want to travel internationally. People can read subtitles, but they can also listen to the dubbing in their native tongue and get into a show they may have otherwise skipped. This should be the norm for streamers who take worldwide content seriously. It's so accessible.
The reason many in Hollywood are taking note is that Squid Game is an original idea. In a world ruled by intellectual property, it's amazing to see the creativity of someone celebrated. Also, no one really knows what's coming next in the show, so everyone has to watch to find out.
Aside from all of this, the show's theme taps into something even deeper. It's about how Korean society has forgotten the middle and lower classes. But that message travels all over the world, as economies take advantage of and squeeze out the vulnerable. It tackles healthcare, family, debt, crime, and many more huge ideas.
Are you watching Squid Game? Let us know in the comments.