The One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest prequel series, Ratched, has officially become Netflix’s most watched series in 2020. Digital Spy reports that “within in its first 28 days, [Ratched] was streamed by a whopping 48 million households.”
In its first 28 days, 48 million members have booked an appointment with Nurse Ratched, making it our biggest original Season 1 of the year. pic.twitter.com/NjCR8uPuPP
— Netflix (@netflix) October 16, 2020
As one of the initial entries into the streaming wars, Netflix has set a precedent in the reimagining of how television viewership statistics are collected, released and analyzed. Rather than releasing the entirety of their viewership data, Netflix and other streamers utilize “selective datecdotes” that usually grant insight into what series are finding the most success on the platform, via What’s On Netflix. For instance, Netflix has publicly released information about series such as The Witcher, the platform’s most-watched premiere with 76 million households tuning in during it’s first month on the streaming service. Deadline cites the recent release and celebration of Ratched’s viewership as “the latest example of Netflix sharing viewing data in success” alongside the disclosure of streaming data for series such as You, Sex Education, The Umbrella Academy and Elite.
The Nielsen ratings have tracked television viewership in American households since 1950, around the era in which Ratched is set, and have since adapted to account for streaming in the 21st century. During the week of September 14 through September 20, Nielsen reported that “Netflix users watched 972 million minutes of the eight-episode series” (The Hollywood Reporter). Ratched narrowly beat out Karate Kid sequel series Cobra Kai, which saw 964 million minutes of Nielsen viewership that week. The Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story, Carol) led thriller, chronicling the origins of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest‘s tyrannical antagonist Nurse Ratched, arrived on Netflix during the last two days of the week in which the Nielsen viewership was collected.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Netflix and other streamers have said Nielsen measurement doesn’t capture the full scope of their audiences” because their data collection “only covers the United States and its rankings don’t include streaming on devices other than TV sets.” Meaning, when it came to Ratched, Netflix had a more impressive number to report than Nielsen.
Netflix’s internal metrics count “two minutes spent with a show or movie” as a view and, according to that perquisite, Ratched‘s 48 million views make it the streamers most viewed series in 2020, via The Hollywood Reporter. Advocate extrapolates that this datecdote, released by Netflix, means that Ratched also qualifies as “the world’s most viewed scripted drama” in 2020.
Advocate credits Ratched’s success on its ability to spotlight marginalized communities, claiming that the series “flies in the face of [the] outdated logic” that “queer storylines are not marketable.” Specifically, Advocate’s article highlights an unspoken and unfounded industry-standard that queer love stories portrayed by queer actors are perceived as less palatable for a mainstream audience. With Ratched, Netflix draws a record audience to a story which centers a queer romance between two out actresses – Paulson and co-star Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City). Nixon, who plays Nurse Ratched’s love interest Gwendolyn Briggs, shared Advocate’s article on her Twitter account Monday, proclaiming that “queer sells”.
Queer sells https://t.co/zQ6T2iqhs6
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) October 19, 2020
Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story, Glee), Ratched’s producer, has garnered a reputation for highlighting underserved stories across his multitude of acclaimed television projects. Much like Ratched, Murphy’s series Pose and Hollywood share period stories through a diverse lens. Murphy shared the milestone of Ratched’s most recent Netflix success on Twitter following the service’s release of the streaming data. “What absolutely mind blowing news to wake up to” Paulson shared on Twitter alongside the same photo Murphy included in his post. The overwhelmed Mildred Ratched actress took a moment to thank those who have contributed to the series’ record-making success at Netflix.
So often the joy of making the thing is in the doing — and is one’s reward… but what a feeling to have the overflowing bounty of such a response. You have all made everyone in the #Ratched family burst with pride and joy. 💚💚💚🍑💚
— Sarah Paulson (@MsSarahPaulson) October 16, 2020
In 2017, long before the series became a Netflix hit, the streaming platform signed Ratched for an 18-episode, two-season deal, according to Digital Spy. However, Paulson confessed to Variety that “nobody knows anything about season 2 because Ryan, with the number of things he has going on, who’s to know when that’s all going to begin? And you throw in the pandemic and then we think well who knows?”