With Q1 2023 now in the books, we’re going to be taking stock of the biggest winners (and the losers) of 2023 so far. We’ll be looking at what movies and series thrived on Netflix so far this year plus what genres have being doing particularly well or otherwise.
Note: In this report of Netflix’s hours viewed from the first quarter of 2023, we’ll use “Complete Viewings Equivalent,” or CVE, expressed in millions. That means we divide the hours viewed announced by Netflix by the runtime of films or series. It allows for better comparisons between films and series, but it’s not an audience metric. It is the minimum number of viewings if they were all complete from the first second to the last of the film or season.
Biggest Netflix Debut Series Released in Q1 2023
There is one clear winner so far in Q1 of 2023: The Night Agent.
The political thriller series should fly past the 55 million CVEs mark after 14 days, making it the most successful new series from Netflix this year. It will presumably have a long career over the second quarter, as we covered in our recent Netflix streaming report, and it has already been renewed for a second season, as it should.
The second most-watched new series of 2023 has to be Kaleidoscope which was launched on the 1st of January and for which we missed the data for its first day. Still, based on what we know for the following weeks, it probably did around 28 million CVEs over its first 14 days. Since it’s a limited series, it won’t have a second season.
Finally, the third most watched new series of 2023 so far on Netflix is That 90s Show, with 18.8 million CVEs over its first 14 days. It was a big bet since sitcoms tend not to do well on Netflix, but it worked, and it has already been renewed for a second season.
On the international series side, The Glory is Netflix’s big success story of the year so far, with 25 million CVEs over its first 14 days.
Since it’s a limited series, it should not have a second season, but never say never, as the Spanish series The Snow Girl was also described as a limited series and as we recently discovered, it has been renewed following its great numbers, totaling 21,6 million CVEs over its first 14 days.
Finally, the Mexican series Triptych (Triada) completes the podium with 17.3 million CVEs over its first 14 days.
Best Performing New Seasons of Returning Netflix Series
Ginny & Georgia ruled supreme in its sophomore season with 41,7M CVEs over its first two weeks. No news on its renewal yet, but it should come soon.
You was renewed for a final fifth season after its good-not-bad-but-not-great-either return for season 4 that charted well below season 3. The fact that it was released in two batches has to have impacted its numbers and made it more difficult for us to analyze them.
Finally, Outer Banks did great and was also renewed for a fourth season after logging 31.7 million CVEs over its first fourteen days. This is something Netflix must’ve predicted, given they gave it an early renewal.
Most Watched New Netflix Movies of Q1 2023
Netflix had three big tentpole films during this first quarter (one per month), and they all performed very well. I must mention the fact that I will not include Murder Mystery 2 in this category because although it was released right at the end of Q1 2023, it’ll spend most of its time picking up viewership during the second quarter.
Luther: The Fallen Sun is the most-watched new film on Netflix this year over the first quarter, with 70 million CVEs over its first 14 days.
That’s an impressive number when we compare it to the early 2022 hits and this trend also extends to the second film on the list, You People, which is just behind Luther with 69 million CVEs.
Your Place or Mine also did really well around Valentine’s Day and rounds up the podium of the year so far (but it might get ejected going forward by Murder Mystery 2).
On the international front, it is less impressive, with two films out of three being worldwide acquisitions of Norwegian films released in Norway’s theaters: Viking Wolf and Narvik.
South Korean action film Jung_E is third with 23.8 million CVEs, and I can’t help but think that Netflix had higher hopes for this one.
The Netflix Flops of Q1 2023
Besides the successes, there have been some notable flops since January.
First up are documentaries, with no real success during the first quarter when 2022 had the huge hit The Tinder Swindler. The output of documentaries also has been very low so far, with only 3 US docs being released over the first three months of the year (compared to 5 last year and 8 in 2021).
No notable successes combined with the smaller output might explain or be linked to the departure of Lisa Nishimura from Netflix last week.
Second seasons of seemingly popular shows.
Back in 2020, Netflix did not communicate in hours viewed as we get now but rather gave us the numbers of accounts that sampled a piece of content. Based on those figures, it was clear that Shadow & Bone was a big success then. Season 2 was released in March, and its numbers have been quite weak and point toward a cancellation, with only 13.3 million CVEs after 14 days. Some will be hard-pressed to blame that on the lack of marketing, as the series was and still is being heavily promoted by Netflix’s social media accounts, but the audience is not there.
The same thing could be said about the Polish series Sexify which came back for a second season and did not even chart in the Top 10.
International series with a pedigree
There was no shortage of new international series from Netflix during the year’s first quarter.
Some of them were coming from famous names such as Nicolas Winding Refn (Copenhagen Cowboy), Hirokazu Kore-Eda (The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House) or even a new adaptation of Elena Ferrante (The Lying Life of Adults).
But none of them left their mark in the Top 10, even if they were quite well received by critics.
Animated series usually don’t chart well in the Top 10s. Still, even so, some misses were quite noticeable such as Agent Elvis, which boasted a great cast (Matthew McConaughey) and a famous icon (Elvis Presley), but it did not manage to get into the Top 10.
Other misses in animated series are new seasons of Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight, Aggretsuko, Oddballs, Gabby’s Dollhouse, Ridley Jones etc.
What were your picks of the biggest hits and biggest misses of 2023 so far? Let us know in the comments down below.