Netflix’s Biggest Viewership Hits and Flops of 2023

A look back at the most watched and most liked Netflix movies, series, and documentaries of 2023.

Frédéric Durand What's on Netflix Avatar

Netflix Hits And Flops Of 2023 Jpg

Pictures via Netflix

2023 has come to a close, and it is time to take a look at the winners and losers of the year among Netflix’s Original titles.

For this review, we used our very own CVE metric after 14 days to have more titles to compare on a more equal foot, and we also used IMDb to get a sense of the most liked titles of the year.

Editor’s note: This first appeared on Netflix n Chiffres, a Substack newsletter that covers streaming SVOD viewership in detail. Any views marked with an asterisk indicate that they’re an estimated figure.

Let’s embark!

1. English Language Films

Let’s begin with one category with some heavy hitters – Netflix’s lineup of English-language movies.

Most Watched English Netflix Films of 2023

Biggest English Speaking Films Netflix Jpg

  1. The Mother – 103.5M
  2. Leave the World Behind – 99M
  3. Extraction 2 – 97.6M
  4. Murder Mystery 2 – 91M
  5. Heart of Stone – 77.4M
  6. Luther: The Fallen Sun – 70.5M
  7. You People – 69.5M
  8. Your Place or Mind – 65.7M
  9. Rebel Moon – 65.4M
  10. Leo – 65.7M

The Mother, Leave the World Behind, Extraction 2, and Murder Mystery 2 all topped the charts this year well, some even better than expected. I would have never guessed Leave the World Behind would be as high as this for 2023.

Another surprise includes the US comedy You People, which proved to be a megahit in the US, an encouraging sign that maybe Netflix should persevere with comedies.

There have also been some relative disappointments. Rebel Moon Part 1, to start with, only managed to be the 9th best launch of the year for Netflix. Heart of Stone seemed also destined to be bigger but at least it is in the Top 5.

Most Liked English Netflix Films of 2023

Most Liked Netflix Original Movies Of 2023 Jpg

  1. Nimona – 7.6/10
  2. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – 7.4/10
  3. Nyad – 7.1/10
  4. Extraction 2 – 7/10
  5. Leo – 7/10
  6. Maestro – 7/10
  7. The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die – 6.9/10
  8. The Killer – 6.8/10
  9. Reptile – 6.8/10
  10. Love at First Sight – 6.6/10

Quality-wise, overlaps are few and apart, as only Extraction 2 and Leo managed to be in both rankings. The rest of the chart comprises your run-of-the-mill prestige fare that Netflix had lined up for the awards season, such as new films from Wes Anderson, Bradley Cooper, and David Fincher.

There are a few surprises there, too, with Nimona being the most liked new US Netflix film of 2023 but also Reptile making quite an appearance after a very interesting run on Netflix, which showed great legs over its first four weeks.

Finally, a little shoutout to the cute rom-com Love at First Sight for managing to be tenth on that list.

2. International films.

Most Watched International Netflix Films of 2023

Most Watched International Netflix Movies Of 2023 Jpg

  1. Nowhere – 62.5M – Spain
  2. AKA – 45M – France
  3. Bird Box: Barcelona – 39.7M – Spain
  4. Viking Wolf – 32.3M – Norway
  5. Wingwoman – 32M – France
  6. Hunger – 30.5M – Thailand
  7. Ballerina – 27.8M – South Korea
  8. Paradise – 27.4M – Germany
  9. Through My Window: Across the Sea – 26.8M – Spain
  10. Faithfully Yours – 26.7M – Netherlands

It has also been an interesting year on the front of the international film, with the Spanish thriller Nowhere being the main attraction, worthy of the sensation Norwegian film Troll from 2022.

Two French films also managed to get into the Top 5: action film AKA and heist movie Wingwomen.

There were some surprises from Asia, as the Thai film Hunger being one of the main surprises of Q2 2023. Two international acquisitions are also included in the list: the Norwegian film Viking Wolf and the Dutch drama Faithfully Yours.

On the quality side, I should note that voters on IMDb tend to grade very favorably anything coming out of India and South Korea, a long recurring bias of the website that makes it harder to see which films really were the most loved this year.

Most Liked International Netflix Films of 2023

Most Liked International Netflix Movies Of 2023 Jpg

  1. Kho Gaye Hum Kahan – 8.2/10 – India
  2. Forgotten Love – 7.5/10 – Poland
  3. Chro Nikal Ke Bhaga – 7.4/10 – India
  4. Nuovo Olimpo – 7.2/10 – Italy
  5. Mission Majnu – 7.1/10 – India
  6. Where The Tracks End – 7.1/10 – Mexico
  7. Jaane Jaan – 7/10 – India
  8. Once Upon a Star – 7/10 – Thailand
  9. Call Me Chihiro – 6.9/10 – Japan
  10. Alkallat+ – 6.8/10 – Saudi Arabia

There is no overlap between the most-watched and the most-liked international films. Still, European films Forgotten Love from Poland and Nuovo Olimpo from Italy seemed to gain the favor of viewers.

3. Debut English-speaking series

Most Watched Debut English Language Netflix Series of 2023

Most Watched English Series Of 2023 Jpg

  1. The Night Agent – 55.2M
  2. Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story – 53.8M
  3. One Piece – 42.7M
  4. Who Is Erin Carter? – 32.6M
  5. XO, Kitty – 32M
  6. Obsession – 30M*
  7. FUBAR – 27.9M
  8. Kaleidoscope – 26M
  9. My Life With The Walter Boys – 24M
  10. All The Light We Cannot See – 22.6M

Secret agents, queens, and pirates reigned in 2023 as The Night Agent became one of Netflix’s most popular new series. Bridgerton fans assembled too, undoubtedly waiting for season 3, with the origin series about Queen Charlotte.

Most importantly, One Piece was not the train wreck a lot of people expected it to be and showed that when the right people are behind the show. It just goes to prove that some anime adaptations can be winners.

Out of those ten series, five were limited series that are now concluded, and the other five were renewed, namely The Night Agent, One Piece, XO, Kitty, FUBAR, and My Life with the Walter Boys. Renewing a successful series – what a concept!

Most Liked Debut Netflix English Language Series of 2023

Most Liked Netflix Original Series Of 2023 Jpg

  1. One Piece – 8.4/10
  2. Beef – 8/10
  3. The Diplomat – 8/10
  4. The Fall of the House of Usher – 7.9/10
  5. The Night Agent – 7.5/10
  6. All The Light We Cannot See – 7.5/10
  7. Survival of the Thickest – 7.5/10
  8. Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story – 7.4/10
  9. Bodies – 7.4/10
  10. Painkiller – 7.4/10

One Piece also managed to be the highest-rated new US Netflix series of 2023, besting Beef, which just got the Golden Globe Award for best-limited series.

It was quite a good year on the quality front.

4. Returning English-speaking series

Most Watched Returning English Speaking Series Of 2023 Jpg

  1. You (Season 4) – 35.6M
  2. The Witcher (Season 3) – 32.5M
  3. Outer Banks (Season 3) – 31.7M
  4. Never Have I Ever (Season 4) – 29.5M
  5. Sex Education (Season 4) – 28.9M
  6. Black Mirror (Season 5) – 25.8M
  7. The Crown (Season 6) – 22M
  8. Virgin River (Season 5) – 21M
  9. Sex/Life (Season 3) – 20M
  10. Vikings: Valhalla (Season 2) – 19.6M

This year, split releases of returning series have made it a bit harder to compare all of them quite equally, but You was the winner on that front before The Witcher.

While it was good to see them number 1 and 2 respectively, those two series saw quite huge drops in viewership compared to previous seasons. That might explain why You was only renewed for a final season. For The Witcher, the soft reboot of season 4 will need to attract more viewers not to be short-lived. Out of those ten series, we said goodbye to Never Have I Ever, Sex Education, and The Crown, which finished their runs, and we also said goodbye to Sex/Life as it was canceled after two seasons. Everything else is getting a new season.

5. International Debut Series

Most Watched Debut International Netflix Series of 2023

Most Watched International Netflix Original Series Of 2023 Jpg

  1. Berlin – 40M* – Spain
  2. Dear Child – 30.4M – Germany
  3. Fake Profile – 24.6M – Colombia
  4. The Snow Girl – 21.6M – Spain
  5. A Nearly Normal Family – 20.3M – Sweden
  6. Muted – 20.3M – Spain
  7. Triptych – 17.3M – Mexico
  8. The Nurse – 17.1M – Denmark 
  9. Black Knight – 15.9M – South Korea
  10. Yu Yu Hakusho – 15.2M – Japan

Berlin took this chart by storm at the end of December, showing that Money Heist assuredly had gas in the tank to become a global IP with multiple spin-offs (and not reboots, I’m looking at you Money Heist: Korea) set in the same universe but in different countries.

Otherwise, it has been an interesting year too for new international series, with series from all over the world managing to get its own sunlight, from Europe to Latin America and Asia. A rich and diverse slate with quite a trend though: most of the titles here are limited series and probably won’t have new seasons. As of the writing of this article, only Fake Profile and The Snow Girl did get a second season order.

Most Liked Debut International Netflix Series of 2023

Most Liked International Netflix Series Of 2023 Jpg

  1. The Railway Men – 8.5/10 – India
  2. Cigarette Girl – 8.3/10 – Indonesia 
  3. Daily Dose of Sunshine – 8.3/10 – South Korea
  4. Bloodhounds – 8.1/10 – South Korea
  5. Kaala Paani – 8/10 – India
  6. Sanctuary –  8/10 – Japan
  7. 1670 – 8/10 – Poland
  8. Eva Lasting – 8/10 – Colombia
  9. Love to Hate You – 7.9/10 – South Korea

On IMDb, Indian and South Korean biases are still there, but the Indonesian show Cigarette Girl and the coming-of-age series Eva Lasting from Colombia also managed to get good grades.

6. Returning International Netflix Series

Most Watched Returning Netflix International Series 2023 Jpg

  1. Lupin – 39.8M – France
  2. The Glory – 29.2M – South Korea
  3. Ragnarok – 14.4M – Norway
  4. The Marked Heart – 13.7M – Colombia
  5. Welcome to Eden – 11.5M – Spain
  6. Elite – 9.9M – Spain
  7. Sintonia – 8.5M* – Brazil
  8. Sky Rojo – 8.4M* – Spain
  9. Wrong Side of the Tracks – 8.4M – Spain
  10. The Tailor – 8.2M – Turkey

The returning international series struggled this year.

Even the third season of Lupin, which did great, landing #10 on the all-time Top 10 for a few weeks, came back to quite a drop compared to season 2, which already dropped a lot from season 1. And what is there to say when Welcome to Eden, the fifth most watched returning series of the year, is canceled for lack of viewership presumably? That it’s not going well.

Out of the 10, only The Marked Heart, Sintonia, Elite (both for final seasons), and Wrong Side of the Tracks (an acquisition) are coming back for more seasons officially.

2024 will see the return of Squid Game, and it will be huge, but that should not distract Netflix from trying to find a new international hit.

7. Animated series

Most Watched Animated Series Of 2023 Jpg

  1. Blue Eye Samurai – 8.8/10
  2. Pluto – 8.3/10
  3. My Daemon – 8/10
  4. This World Can’t Tear Me Down – 8/10
  5. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – 7.8/10

Animated series have struggled in 2023 in the Tops 10 so much that I’m quite incapable of declaring a winner based on such incomplete viewership data. That’s a problem, but if there’s one winner on the audience appreciation scale, it has to be Blue Eye Samurai, which got a stellar 8.8/10 on IMDb and renewed for a second season.

8. Documentaries

It has been a challenging year for Netflix docs, following the exit of Lisa Nishimura from the streamer and no big hit on the scale of a Tinder Swindler for 2023.

Most Watched Netflix Documentaries of 2023

Most Watched Netflix Original Documentaries Of 2023 Jpg

  1. The Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker – 22M*
  2. Pamela, A Love Story – 18M*
  3. Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case – 14M*
  4. Take Care of Maya – 13.8M*
  5. Money Shot: The Pornhub Story – 12.5M*

Per my estimates, the most-watched doc this year’s launching period was true crime doc The Hatched Wielding Hitchhiker, which is as random as possible.

Quality-wise, there have been some great docs, some even getting some recognition on the festival trail, such as The Deepest Breath from A24, but they failed to make an impression in the viewership charts.

Most Liked Netflix Documentaries of 2023

Most Liked Netflix Original Documentaries 2023 Jpg

  1. Take Care of Maya – 7.8/10
  2. The Deepest Breath – 7.7/10
  3. Wham! – 7.5/10
  4. El Dorado – 7.5/10
  5. The Saint of Second Chances – 7.5/10

The Academy Awards race for the best documentary is already looking quite challenging for Netflix as The Deepest Breath is not on the shortlist, leaving only American Symphony and Stamped from the Beginning in the running. And neither of them made any impact at all in the Top 10s.

9. Documentary series

Most Watched Documentary Series of 2023

Most Watched Documentary Series In 2023 Jpg

  1. Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal – 35M*
  2. Beckham – 26.3M 
  3. Depp V Heard – 25.9M
  4. MH370: The Plane that Disappeared – 20.6M 
  5. Bad Surgeon: Love Under the Knife – 15.1M

The lineup for the 2023 Netflix documentary series, “Stars and Killers,” was essentially the same old concept, yet it also demonstrated how some celebrities use such series to boost their profiles.

David Beckham was the most notable example, followed by others like Robbie Williams, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Pamela Anderson, who all attempted to influence the narrative surrounding their lives through Netflix’s expansive reach.

Most Liked Documentary Series of 2023

Most Liked Documentary Series Of 2023 Jpg

  1. Captains of the World – 8.7/10
  2. Tour De France: Unchained – 8.2/10
  3. Chimp Empire – 8.2/10
  4. World War II: From the Frontlines – 8.2/10
  5. Wrestlers – 8.2/10

Even though they don’t make big splashes in the Top 10, the sports documentary series did get some great reviews on IMDb this year, with Captains of the World, Tour de France Unchained, or even Wrestlers showing what sports might look like on Netflix in 2024.

10. Reality TV

Most Watched Netflix Reality Shows of 2023

Most Watched Reality Series Added In 2023 Jpg

  1. Squid Game: The Challenge – 30.6M
  2. Physical: 100 – 20M
  3. Love is Blind (Season 4) – 16.1M
  4. Perfect Match – 11.7M
  5. Love is Blind (Season 5) – 11.7M

Weekly releases of reality TV shows became the norm in 2023, and it also forced us to adapt and try to seize new ways to compare them.

Squid Game: The Challenge was undoubtedly the most-watched new reality TV show of 2023 on Netflix, but the second one is the biggest surprise. South Korean Physical: 100 managed to be the hit of the first part of the year with a show in South Korea, so that’s not bad at all. Love is Blind stayed a surefire hit for Netflix but with quite a steep decline between season 4 and season 5. All of those five shows have been renewed for new seasons.

Most Liked Netflix Reality Shows of 2023

Most Liked Reality Shows Of 2023 Jpg

  1. The Devil’s Plan – 8.2/10
  2. Siren: Survive the Island – 8.1/10
  3. Down for Love – 7.9/10
  4. Nineteen to Twenty – 7.8/10
  5. Physical: 100 – 7.6/10

Physical: 100 is the only show to have managed to be among the five most-liked new Netflix Original reality shows of 2023, and if you liked Squid Game: The Challenge or Physical: 100, make sure to check out The Devil’s Plan and Siren, as they are the two most liked reality shows of 2023.

11. The flops of 2023.

There are a few flops to name this year, and let’s get right into it.

US American animated series

Agent Elvis Canceled Netflix

Picture: Netflix

Agent Elvis, Mulligan, Skull Island, Captain Fall, Captain Laserhawk, Carol & The End of the World, Human Resources, The Dragon Prince, Oddballs.

All of those shows failed to make an impression in the Top 10 and, more broadly, calls into question Netflix’s strategy in the space as original stories or adapted stories do not seem to resonate with audiences.

Movie Misses

There were a lot of movie misses in 2023, some of which received heavy promotion.

One movie that pains us that struggled is the very good ensemble sci-fi comedy movie They Cloned Tyrone which ranks among the worst performers of the year.

Some awards-fare really struggled to put in big performances this year, including Fair Play, Nyad, and Rustin, which all seemed to collapse in viewership early on.

The biggest movie miss of the year on the kid’s side is undoubtedly Spy Kids: Armageddon. If you consider that We Can Be Heroes remains one of Netflix’s most-watched, and then this struggled in the top 10, pulling in just 32.8M watch hours, something went very wrong.

On the international side, The Archies couldn’t have missed harder if it tried only ranking in the top 10s for two weeks. It was given ample coverage on Netflix’s English-language socials and just went nowhere.

Sports docuseries and documentaries.

Ok, I called a few winners just a bit above, but most had a hard time in 2023.

Break Point, Heart of Invictus, Wrestlers, Under Pressure, Mark Canedish: Never Enough, and Second Chances never made it into a Top 10 this year.

When we try and fit this into Netflix’s strategy in regards to sports, it can mean various things: either general audiences do not care about sports, and Netflix should not spend money buying sports rights, or general audiences do not care about sports docs, and Netflix should invest in sports rights.

Live events.

The Netflix Cup

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Netflix © 2023

This ties into the previous points.

The biggest of the live streams was The Netflix Cup, which was a mess, but we never got any numbers for it, viewership-wise. It did not do enough to break into the Top 10 that week (and the bar was low), so this calls into question Netflix subs appetite for live content, except for stand-up comedy as Chris Rock’s Selective Outrage is, as of today, the only live event to break into Netflix top 10.

International series from established filmmakers or authors.

This year, Netflix released new series from acclaimed directors Hirokazu Kore-Eda (Makanai: cooking for the Maiko House) or Nicolas Winding Refn (Copenhagen Cowboy), new adaptations of works by Junji Ito (Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabres) or Elena Ferrante (The Lying Life of Adults) but those series did not break into the Top 10, and it seems such a shame. Now, it’s hard to blame it on a lack of promotion (most Netflix titles that get into the Top 10 do not get a promotion at all); people just want to watch what they want to watch.

What were your favorite new titles of 2023? Let us know in the comments.